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United States 

George Washington Bicentennial Commission 

. - . . . . 

W.A, S it l NG TON, D . -C 




* 373. + 1 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

The "Athenaeum" Portrait of 

George Washington 

By Gilbert Stuart 

(Reproduced on opposite page) 

This was the last of three original portraits of George 
Washington by Gilbert Stuart, and was painted in 1796. 
It was not finished and Stuart refused to dispose of it, 
using it for making many copies. It is generally accepted 
as the standard portrait, and a reproduction of this por- 
trait in poster size was placed in every school room in the 
United States by the United States George Washington 
Bicentennial Commission. This portrait of George 
Washington and the companion portrait of Martha 
Washington are owned by the Boston Athenaeum, and 
are exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston. 

The "Athenaeum" Portrait of George Washington 





George Washington 
Bicentennial Celebration 


Literature Series 

MAY 12 1933 


19 3 2 

United States 
George Washington Bicentennial Commission 

washington, d. c. 


United States George Washington 
Bicentennial Commission 

President oi im United States 

Vice President of the United States 

Speaker or the House of Representatives 

United States Senate 

Simeon D. Fess, Vice Chairman 

Arthur Capper 

Carter Glass 


Millard E. Tydings 

House of Representath e% 

Willis C. Hawley 

John Q. Tilson 

Joseph W. Byrns 

R. Walton Moore 

Presidential Com missioners 

Mrs. Anthony Wayne Cook 

Mrs. John Dickinson Sherman 

Henry Ford 

C. Bascom Slemp 


Wallace McCamant 

Albert Bushnell Hart 


Joseph Scott 


Representative Sol Bloom 

New York 


MAY 1 % 1933 


THIS is the first of a series of three volumes containing literature pre- 
pared and issued in connection with the Celebration of the Two Hun- 
dredth Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington. Other volumes 
in the general report of this Commission contain material of various and 
related kinds, but the present series, of which this is Volume I, is restricted 
to re-publication of historical pamphlets that have had wide distribution. 

Of major importance are the "Honor to George Washington" pam- 
phlets, edited by the Historian of the Commission, Dr. Albert Bushnell 
Hart. These fifteen studies include the principle phases of General 
George Washington's life and those elements of his career which chiefly 
contributed to his character and made possible his great achievements. It 
is important to note that in these pamphlets the authors have presented 
authentic information, obtained after most painstaking and thorough 
research. The method of compilation is calculated to facilitate the work 
of students, as well as for the accommodation of the casual reader. 

Naturally, a thorough investigation was made of all available books, 
pamphlets and other material relating to the life and times of George 
Washington. In covering so wide a field, it was necessary not only to 
study the requirements of selection, but also in condensation to guard 
against the omission of essential data. In this work of investigation and 
arrangement, the Commission has had the benefit of the scholarly and 
patriotic services of Dr. Hart, Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor of the 
Definitive Writings of George Washington and of George Washington's 
Diaries, and David M. Matteson, Historical Assistant of the Commission, 
with a capable staff of men and women working under their direction. 

"The George Washington Programs and Program Papers," originated 
by and prepared under the direction of Mrs. John Dickinson Sherman, 
were especially designed to assist patriotic societies, clubs and similar 
organizations as well as schools, colleges and other educational institu- 
tions, in preparing material for special George Washington program 
events. This series has proved exceedingly popular and has formed a 
basis for thousands of addresses, articles and discussions in connection 
with the Celebration. 

"The George Washington Appreciation Course," by Miss Hazel 
Nielson, was designed especially for use in teaching the history of George 
Washington, and was used as a suggestive guide for teachers and student- 


teachers in the schools and colleges of the United States. This was one 
oi the most important and helpful pamphlets in all the material furnished 
io the public. 

"The George Washington Atlas," edited by Lawrence Martin, 
Chief, Division of Maps, Library of Congress, is of special value in its 
relation to other items of contents, as it affords an opportunity to follow 
the course of historical records. 

"The Highlights of the Writings of George Washington," compiled 
by David M. Matteson, speak for themselves. They were selected from 
the more important documents concerned in the career of George 

The character of the "Religious References in the Writings, 
Addresses and Military Orders of George Washington," compiled by 
Mr. Matteson, and "The Educational Views of George Washington," 
by Walton C. John, Senior Specialist in Higher Education, United States 
Office of Education, and Alma H. Preinkert, Assistant Registrar, Uni- 
versity of Maryland, based on his diaries and addresses, is indicated by 
their titles, and both pamphlets have contributed importantly to the 
popularity of the material issued by the Commission. 

In the remaining sections of this volume are presented other valuable 
contributions, including plays which have had wide and popular accept- 
ance, especially among the boys and girls of the United States. 

The facts are given fully in a style that is clear, concise and direct. 
No effort has been made at literary embellishment. No labored com- 
position has been attempted to give grace to the text. The readers may 
be assured that the primary purpose of these studies of George Washing- 
ton's life has been to achieve the greatest historical authenticity and to 
insure permanent educational value. They were offered to the public in 
full confidence that they supplied in convenient and compact form the 
most useful and enlightening data upon the life and time of George 
Washington that can be found in the vast literary memorabilia relating 
to our greatest American. 

Sol Bloom, 

Unhid States George Washington 
blc entenniai. commission 



The "Athenaeum" Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart Frontispiece 

United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission iv 

Preface v 

List of Illustrations xxu 

Publications of the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission xxiv 





Edited by Albert Bushnell Hart ... l 

Introduction to Series 

Pamphlet No. 1 



By David M. Matteson 

Part 1 

A Frontiersman by Nature 

Frontier Land System 5 

Spotswood's Expedition (1716) 6 

Frontier Routes 

The Pennsylvania Dutch 6 

Forest Lands 

The Scotch-Irish 6 

Mixed Frontier Elements 

Hardships of Washington's Expeditions. 

The Valley of Virginia in 1748 

Washington with a Transit (1748) 8 

The Moravians on the Frontier (1747) ... 8 

A Missionary on the Frontier ( 1748) 8 

Rival Denominations (1748) 

Moravian Journey to North Carolina (1753) 

Settlements beyond the Valley 

Indian Raids (1755-1758) 9 

Washington on the Raids 10 

Maury on the Insecurity of the Frontier (1756) . 10 

Chain of Frontier Forts (1756-1758) .... 10 

Washington's Impressions (1784) 10 

Part U 

Surveying Trip (1748) 11 

Carrying Warning to the French (1753) 11 


Fort Necessity Expedition ( 1754) 13 

Washington's Appeal to the Indians (1754) 13 

In the Braddock Campaign (1755) 13 

On the Frontier (1755-1758) 13 

Cherokees and Catawbas (1756-1757) 13 

In the Forbes Expedition (1758) 14 

On the Land Selection Trip (1770) 14 

Indians and the Revolutionary Army (1775-1783) 14 

On the Frontier (1784) 15 

Presidential Policy (1789-1797) 15 

Lo the Poor Indian! 15 


List of Authorities 15 

Pamphlet No. 2 


By Albert Bushnell Hart 

Part I 

Variety of Education 17 

Education of Other People 18 

Education of Affairs 18 

Authorship 18 

The Organizer 18 

The Intellectual Washington 18 

Intellectual Influences 18 

Criterions of Education 19 

Education by Neighbors 19 

Education by Responsibility 19 

Secretary and Tutor (1785) 19 

Self-Education of a Public Man 19 

Education of Secretaries 20 

Respect for Education (1790) 20 

Plans for a University (179 5) 20 

Family Letters 22 

Vigor of Expression 22 

Intellectual Influence of Washington 22 

CONTENTS— Continual 

Ptrt II 

1 111 K \RV RECORDS 


Geometry (174$) 23 

Sun eying - ' 

Geographical Definitions 23 

Inscription on .1 1 U I cat of a I atin Translation ot Homer 23 
Selections from Rules of ( ivilit} and Decent Behaviour in 
(. ompan) and ( onversation copied out by Washington 

(1745) 23 

Acrostic to "I ranees Aiexa — " ■ 24 

letter to .i Young Friend (1749) 24 

I etter to his Sister-in-Law ( 1749 or 1750) 24 

1 tperiences .it Barbados (1751) 24 

Difficulty of Writing (17J4) 24 

I ite on the Plantation (1773) 2 5 

Mrs. Washington (1775) 25 

Example of Washington's Humor (1779) 2 5 

Opinion of Arnold (1780) 25 

Worship of Success (1782) 25 

Poetry and Fiction (1783) 25 

Advice to People about to be married (1783) 25 

Gliding down the Stream of Life (1784) 2 5 

Money makes the Mare go (1785) 25 

Agreement with the Gardener ( 1787) 2* 

Part 111 


Personal 26 

Character 26 

Human Nature 26 

Sitting for his Portrait (1785) 26 

Religion 27 

Friendship 27 

Public Spirit 27 

Love of Country 27 

Government 27 

Military 27 

Reorganization 28 

Part IV 


Compiled />) David M. Mattf.son 

List of Honors 


I ist of Authorities 



Pamphlet No. 3 

Compiled />) A i in hi Hi sum i i. Hart 

Part I 

Anonymous Briton (1790) 

Anonymous (1798) 

John Bell (1779) 

Jean Pierre Brissot de Warvillc (1791) 

Baron Cromot Du Bourg ( 1781 ) 

Prince de Broglie (1782) 

Marquis de Chastcllux ( 178 1 ) 

George Washington Parke Custis (1826) 

John Hunter (178 5) 

Marquis de Lafayette (1824) 

Senator William Maclay (1791) 

Captain George Mercer (1759) 

Jedidiah Morse (1789) 

Abbe Claude C. Robin (1781) 

Dr. James Thacher (1778) 

Dr. James Thacher (1779) 

Edward Thornton, of English Legation (1792) 

Henry Wansey (179 5) 

Isaac Weld (1797) 




Part II 
Delegate John Adams (1775, 1776) 

President John Adams ( 1799) 

Representative Fisher Ames (1800) 

John Bell (1779) 

William Paulett Cary (1789) 

Delegate Abraham Clark ( 1777) 

E)elegate Silas Deane (1775) 

General Nathanael Greene ( 1775, 1776) 

Colonel Alexander Hamilton (1778) 

Delegate Alexander Hamilton (1783) 

President John Hancock (1775) 

Delegate Patrick Henry (1774) 

Ex-President Thomas Jefferson (1814) 

Representative Henry Lee ( 1799) 

Tutor Ebcnczer Grant Marsh of Yale (1800) . 

Representative John Marshall (1799) 

Chief Justice John Marshall (1804) 

Ex-Minister Gouverneur Morris (1799) 

Delegate Robert Morris ( 1777) 

Jedidiah Morse (1789) 

CONTENTS— Continued 


Governor and Council of North Carolina (1790) 3 5 

An Officer (1777) 3 5 

Timothy Pickering (1811) 3 5 

Senate of the United States (1799) 3 5 

President Smith of New Jersey College (1S00) 3 5 

William Sullivan (1797) 3 5 

Military Secretary Tench Tilghman (1777) 3 6 

Virginia Inscription on the Houdon Statue (1784) 36 

Part III 

"American Gentleman now in London" (1779) 36 

Claude Blanchard (1781) 36 

Jean Pierre Brissot de Warville (1791) 36 

Prince de Broglie (1782) 36 

Lord Byron (1818-1821) 37 

Phillips Callbeck (1775) 37 

Marquis de Chastellux (1781) 37 

Peter S. du Ponceau (1778) 37 

Count Axel de Fersen (1780) 37 

Louis, Count de Fontanes 37 

Member of Parliament Charles James Fox (1794) 37 

Minister Conrad A. Gerard (1779) 3 8 

Chevalier Anne C. de la Luzerne (1784) 38 

Joseph Mandrillon (1782) 38 

Peter Ivanovitch Poletica (1812) 38 

Abbe Claude C. Robin (1781) 38 

Comte de Segur (1782) 3 8 

Chevalier de Silly (1781) 38 

Francis Adrian van der Kemp (1800) 38 

Charles Varlo (1784) 38 

Henry Wansey (1794) 39 

Part IV 


Compiled by David M. Matteson 

List of Appointments 39 


List of Authorities 40 

Pamphlet No. 4 


By David M. Matteson 

Part I 

Interest in Farming 41 

Wasteful Farming in Virginia 41 


Washington's Scientific Farming 41 

Tobacco 42 

Wheat Farming 42 

Reaping Wheat 42 

Raising Grain 42 

Invention of a Drill Plow 42 

Agricultural Experiments 42 

Raising Stock 43 

Sheep Raising 43 

Part II 


The English System 43 

Manager Bloxham 43 

White Labor and Slaves 44 

Modern Farming Methods 44 

Difficulties of Improvement 44 

Interest in Shrubbery 44 

Continuing Interest 45 

Part III 


Compiled by Albert Bushnell Hart 

Critical Transactions in Pork (January, 1760) 45 

Invention of a Plow (1760) 4 5 

Agricultural Books ( 1760) 45 

Systematic Fishing (1768) 45 

Fishing — Dinner at Fish House (1772) 4 5 

Fishing Shores of Estate (1772) 45 

A Month at Home (1769, October) 45 

A Farmer's Life (July, 1770) 46 

The Mill and Tumbling Run (February, 1771) 46 

Farm Routine (April, 1771) 46 

Going to Town (May, 1771) 46 

Harvesting (July, 1772) 46 

A Farm Inventory (November, 1785) 46 

Farm Buildings ( 1789) 48 

A Threshing Machine (January, 1790) 48 

Farm Inspection (1791) 48 

Scientific Agriculture (1794) 48 

Special Interests (1796) 48 

Board of Agriculture (1797) 48 


List of Authorities 48 


CONTENTS— Con/in ucd 

Pamphi i i No. J 

B} John C. FlTZPAl RI< k 

Pari I 

Ybuthf ul 1 xperiences 

On the I rentier ( 1756) 

C hurch Going | 17J9-1799) 

Revolutionary Period (177J-1783) 

Relations to Canada C ampaign (177$) 

Reliance on Providence (1776) 

\\ orship in the Army ( \776-\777) 

Thanksgi\ ing ( 1777) 

Gratitude for the French Alliance (1778) 

Saint Patrick (1776-1780) 

Thanks for Victory (1783) 

Washington's Faith 

Religion in Washington's Replies to Addresses 

Relation to the Denominations 

The Quakers 

Advice to Churches 

Essentials of Washington's Religion 


5 1 


5 1 
5 3 
5 3 
5 3 
5 3 

Part II 

Compiled /»•) Al Bl R.T BUSHNI 1 I 1 lAR I 

Question of a Bishop (1769) 5 5 

A Year of Washington's Sundays (1773) 5 5 

Presbyterian Meeting and Catholic Service (1774) 56 

Morals (1776) 56 

Providence (1778) 56 

Protection of the Almighty ( 1783) 56 

To the Governors of the States (1783) 56 

Sundays (1784, 1785) 57 

Religious I reedom (1785) 57 

Thanksgiving to God in the Inaugural (1789) 57 

Support of the Almighty (1789) 57 

Christianity (1789) 57 

Sunday Visits to Strangers (1789) 57 

Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789) 57 

To Baltimore (1789) 57 

To Philadelphia (1789) 5 7 

To the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church 

'89) 57 

To the Bishops of the Methodist Church ( 1789) 5 8 

To Massachusetts | 1789) 58 

To the Synod of the Reformed Dutch Church (1789) 58 

To ( onnecticut ( l 789) 

To the Roman Catholics of the United States ( 1789) 

To Virginia (1790) 

To the Hebrew Congregation ol Savannah (1790) 

Church Universal 

Divine Interposition (1792) 

To Congress (1793) 

To Congress ( 1794) 

To Congress (1795) 

Thanksgiving Proclamation ( 179 5 ) 

To Congress (1796) 

To the Clergy of Different Denominations, Philadelphi 


List of Authorities 





Pamphlet No. 6 


By David M. Matteson 

Part I 

Washington as a Candidate (1755-1758) 60 

Washington on the Stamp Act (1765) 60 

Washington on Non-Importation (1769-1770) 61 

Washington on the Boston Port Bill (1774) 61 

Washington in the First Virginia Convention (1774) 62 

Washington in the First Continental Congress (1774) 62 

Washington's Final Actions as a Virginian (1775) 62 

Part II 



Washington on Unity of Military Authority 63 

Inefficiency of Congress 63 

Policy of Enlistments 6> 

Independence and Union 64 

New York and New Jersey Campaigns (1776) 64 

Congress and the Army ( 1776) 64 

Washington and Posterity 6 5 

Impracticable Congressional Orders 

Problem of General Officers 
Philadelphia Campaign (1777) 
Congressional Intrigue (1777-1778) 
Washington on the Intrigue 
Cartel Incident (1778) 


Washington .\m\ the French Alliance (1778) 66 

CONTENTS— Continued 


Attempted Army Reforms ( 1780) 67 

Washington and Political Reform (1778) 67 

Washington and Political Affairs (1779) 67 

Washington on State Responsibility (1780) 68 

"Washington's Constructive Criticism (1781) 68 

Inadequacy of the Confederation 68 

Newburgh Addresses ( 1783 ) 68 

Offer of Kingship (1782) 69 

Surrender of Commission (1783) 69 

Circular Letter to the States (1783) 69 

Reform through Experience only 70 

Popular Responsibility (1786) 70 

Shays Rebellion ( 1786) 70 


List of Authorities 70 

Pamphlet No. 7 


By David M. Matteson 

Part I 

Influence of Potomac Navigation (1772-1785) 72 

Rivalry of Virginia and Maryland (1784-1785) 7i 

Arrangements for a Conference (1784-1785) 73 

Proposal of a General Convention (1786) 73 

Would Washington attend the Convention (1786)? 74 

Advice of Friends ( 1786) 74 

Washington advocates the Convention (1787) 74 

Washington's Estimate of the Difficulties 74 

Question of Monarchy 7 5 

Counsels on attending the Convention (1787) 75 

Washington agrees to attend (1787) 75 

Part II 

Opening of the Convention (May, 1787) 76 

Votes and Attitude in Convention (1787) 76 

Basis of Sound Government (1785-1787) 76 

Washington's Influence in the Convention 77 

Washington on the Comprises of the Constitution (1787) 77 

Close of the Convention (September, 1787) 

Washington's Influence on the Ratification Contest (1787- 

1788) . ..' 77 

Support of Washington and Franklin (1787) 78 

Washington's Analysis of the Situation (1788) 78 

Washington's Opposition to a Second Convention (1788) 78 

Washington on The Federalist (1788) 79 


Personal Discussions on Ratification (1788) 79 

Danger in Adjournments (1788) 79 

Influence of Washington on the Virginia Convention 

(1788) 79 

Critical Action of Virginia (1788) 80 

Prospects in the last Three States (1788) 80 

Washington suggested for President (1788) 80 

Pressure to accept the Presidency (1788) 81 

Washington on the Presidency (1788) 81 

Washington accepts the Presidency (1789) 81 

Inauguration of Washington ( 1789) 82 


List of Authorities 82 

Pamphlet No. 8 


By Albert Bushnell Hart 

Part I 

Traditions of Government 8 3 

First Election of President (1788-1789) 84 

President Washington's Social Life 84 

Problems of Organization (1789-1793) 84 

Development of Parties ( 1793-1797) 

Stability of the Government (1793-1797) 

A Lively Cabinet Meeting (1793) 

The Indian Question (1793-1797) 

The Whiskey Rebellion (1794) 

Harmony of the Sections (1796) 86 

Opening of the West (1791-1799) 86 

Part II 

Basis of a National Policy 86 

Primary Objects of Diplomacy 87 

Avoiding Offense to Other Nations (1794) 87 

Foreign Policy in the Farewell Address (1796) 87 

Place in the Family of Nations (1789-1790) 87 

Authority of the President 87 

Jay Treaty (1794) 8 8 

Navigation of the Mississippi River 88 

Qualifications of a Foreign Minister 8 8 

Courtesies to Diplomats ( 1790) 8 8 

Treaty Making and the Senate ( 1789) 88 

Relation of the House of Representatives to Treaties 

(1796) 88 

CONTK NTS— Con /in ucd 

Boundary Difficulties | 1783- 1789) 

I fifect of War in 1 urope ( 1793-1797) 

Principles of Neutrality (1793-1796) 

Washington's Queries on Neutrality il793) 

Policj ol Neutrality | 1793) 

Priendl) Terms with All Nations (1796) 

No Permanent Alliances (1796) 

Preparedness | 1782, 1793) 

M.lit.nv Academj | l~96) 

C ombinations ot Nations 

Permanent World Peace 





PART 111 



Compiled /m David M. Matteson 

I isi ot F\ outs 

Fist of Authorities 



Pamphlet No. 9 


By James Hosmer Penniman 

Part 1 

A National Shrine 

The Historic Mansion 

Origin of Mount Vernon 

The Family Mansion (1759) 

Changes and Furniture 

Pride in Mount Vernon 


Scientific Improvements 97 

The Library 97 

Politics (1774) 97 

A Visitor's Judgment (1785). 97 

Absences from Mount Vernon (1789-1797) 99 

Last Residence at Mount Vernon (1797-1799) 99 

Amusements and Diversions 99 

Portraiture 100 

( onsideration for the Poor 100 

Visitors 100 

Distinguished Visitors (1780-1789) 100 

Return to Mount Vernon (1783) 101 

Outdoor Sports 101 

Tree Culture 101 

Religious Observances 102 

Church Going 102 


Social Life 102 

Martha Washington in the Mansion 103 

Washington's I oiulness for Martha 103 

Martha Washington during the War 103 

The Custises 103 

The End of I ife at Mount Vernon 104 

Mount Vernon a National Possession (1799-1932) 104 

Part 11 


Compiled l>-\ David M. Mm resoN 

Table 104 


Fist of Authorities 105 

Pamphlet No. 10 


B) Col. Samli i C. Vestal, U. S. A. 

Part 1 


Early Training 106 

Frontier Campaign of 1754 ... 106 

Frontier Campaign of 175 5 107 

Frontier Service (1755-1757) 108 

Frontier Service (175 8) 108 

Military Education 108 

Part 11 


Eve of the Revolution (1774-1775) 109 

Commander in Chief (1775) 109 

War Powers of the Commander in Chief (1775-1776) 110 

Military Vigor 110 

Capture of Boston (1776) 110 

Defense of New York ( 1776) Ill 

Preparation to meet British Attack Ill 

Battle of Long Island (1776) 112 

Return to New York (1776) 112 

White Plains Engagement (1776) 112 

Fall of Fort Washington (1776) 112 

The Danger Point of the Revolution (1776-1777) 112 

Hat tie of Trenton (1776) 113 

Battle of Princeton (1777) 114 

Effect of the Winter Campaign < 1777) 114 

Difficulties of the Commander in Chief 114 

Washington's Relations to the Burgoyne Campaign (1777) 114 

Aid to the Northern Army (1777) 114 

CONTENTS— Continued 


Brandy wine Campaign ( 1777) 115 

Battle of Germantown ( 1777) 115 

Part III 

Dark Hours of the Revolution ( 1778) 116 

Steuben to the Fore (1778) 116 

Plan of Military Training (1778) 116 

Quality of the American Soldier 117 

Monmouth Campaign (1778) 117 

Rhode Island Campaign (1778) 117 

Stony Point and Paulus Hook (1779) 118 

Southern Campaigns preliminary to Yorktown (1779-1781) 118 

Operations with the French (1780-1781) 119 

Joint Plans of Campaign (1781) 119 

Final Victory at Yorktown (1781) 120 

Responsibility of General Washington 120 

Renewed Military Service (1794-1799) 121 

Death of Washington (1799) 121 

Washington the Man 121 


List of Authorities. 121 

Pamphlet No. 1 1 


By Prof. Archibald Henderson 

Part I 

The Travel Records 123 

Purpose of Washington's Travels 123 

Over the Blue Ridge (1748) 124 

Western Land Grants and Claims (175 3-1754) 124 

Account of the Wilderness (1753) 124 

Frontier Campaigns (1755-1758) 125 

Land Interests on the Ohio (1754-1770) 125 

Journey on the Ohio River ( 1770) 12 5 

Staking out Claims (1770-1772) 125 

Last Journey to the West (1784) 12 5 

Improvement of River Navigation (1784-1785) 126 

Part 11 

Revolutionary Transits 126 

First Experiences in New England (1756-1776) . 126 

New England Journeys during the French Alliance 126 

Presidential Tours 126 

Eastern Journey (1789) 127 


Conditions of the Tour ( 1789) 127 

From New York to Boston (1789) 127 

The Hancock Incident ( 1789) 127 

Governor Hancock Yields 127 

Boston to Portsmouth and Return Journey (1789) 127 

Long Island and Rhode Island Tours (1791) 128 

Part HI 

Voyage to Barbados (1751) 128 

Experiences in Barbados (1751-1752) 128 

The Great Dismal Swamp (1763-1768). 128 

Adventures in the Swamp 129 

Preparations for a Southern Tour (1791) 129 

Virginia (1791) 129 

The Carolinas (1791) 129 

Georgia and Return Journey (1791) 129 

Part IV 


Compiled by David M. Matteson 

Ordering a Chariot (1768) 130 

Journey in the Central Colonies (1773) 130 

Allure of the Frontier (1783) 130 

Advice on the Tours (1789) 130 

Impression of a Future President (1789) 131 

A Gift and an Acknowledgment at Uxbridge (1789) 131 

Agricultural Observations on Long Island (1790) 131 

Journal of a Traveling Companion in Rhode Island (1790) 131 

Uncertainties of Ferry Travel (1791) 132 

Provision for Public Emergencies (1791) 132 

An Accident on the Road (1791) 133 

Sounding the Public Pulse in the South (1791) 133 

Official Business by the Way (1791) 133 

Escape from an Escort (1791) 133 

Comment on Southern Commerce (1791) 133 

A Poetic Greeting by an Admirer (1791) 133 

A Loyal Address (1791) 133 

Military Rendezvous in Western Pennsylvania (1794) 13 3 


List of Authorities 134 

Pamphlet No. 12 


By Hon. Sol Bloom 

Part 1 

The Business Mind 135 

Colonial Economics 135 

CONTENTS— Continued 


Descent from Business Men 136 

Custis Wealth 136 

Part 11 

Bookkeeping System 136 

Illustrative Entries 137 

Analytical Accounts . . . 137 

Business Income 137 

Bank of England Stock 138 

Other People's Affairs 138 

Part III 

Family Experience 139 

Business of Plantation Management 139 

Washington as a Business Farmer 140 

English Superintendent 140 

Labor Problems 140 

White Redemptioners 140 

Slave Labor 141 

Opinion on Emancipation 141 

Principles as Employer 141 

The Planter and the English Agenrs 141 

Overseas Trade Relations 141 

Invoices and Shipments 142 

Maritime Interests 142 

The Fisherman 143 

The Ferryman 143 

The Lumberman 143 

Domestic Manufacture 143 

Part IV 

The Landed Proprietor 144 

Washington and the West 144 

Business of Colonization 144 

Founder of the National Capital 144 

Mining 144 

The Legal Mind 145 

Corporations 145 

The Social Promoter 145 

The Traveling Man 146 

Part V 


Associate Spirit 146 

The Business of War 146 


The Staff and Line 146 

Federal Finance 147 

Foundations of the Navy 147 

International Trade 147 

Interstate Commerce 147 

Federal Relation to Industry 148 

Service to the Nation's Business 148 


List of Authorities 149 

Pamphlet No. 13 


By Lieut. Col. U. S. Grant 3d, U. S. A. 

Part I 

Choice of a Profession 150 

Technical Education 152 

Early Military Training 152 

The Young Surveyor's Mission to the French 152 

The Military Engineer 153 

The Engineer at Home 154 

Interest in Power Boats 154 

Interest in Aeronautics 155 

Interest in Submarines 155 

Pioneer Drainage Engineer 155 

The Ohio Company (1747-1754) 156 

The Proposed Mississippi Company (1763) 156 

Search for a Transmontane Water Route 156 

The Potomac Canal Project 157 

Construction of the Potomac Canal 158 

The James River Canal Project 159 

Water Routes and a more Perfect Union 159 

The Engineer as a Nation Builder 159 

Part 11 

Constitutional Provision for the National Capital 160 

Selection of a Site for the Capital 160 

Qualifications for the Job of City Builder 160 

Beginning the New Capital (1791) 161 

The L'Enfant Plan (1791) . . . 162 

Acquisition of the Needed Land 162 

An Example of Unusual Foresight 162 

Dismissal of L'Enfant (1792) 163 

Interest in Public Buildings 163 

The White House 163 

CONTENTS— Continued 


Laying the Cornerstone of the Capitol (1793) 163 

The Nation's Monument to Washington 164 


List of Authorities 165 

Pamphlet No. 14 


By Carl H. Claudy 

Part I 

Early Years 166 

Education 166 

Brothers and Sister 166 

Marriage 167 

The Lady of the Manor 167 

Early Friends 167 

At Mount Vernon 167 

Style of Living 168 

Daily Life at Mount Vernon 168 

Hospitality 168 

Dancing 169 

Sports 169 

The Planter 169 

Children at Mount Vernon 169 

Home Life away from Mount Vernon 170 

Church Relations 170 

Later Friends 170 

Christmas 170 

Last Days 171 

Last Visitors 171 

Part II 

Freemasonry 172 

Mother Grand Lodge 172 

The Religion of Freemasonry 172 

In the New World 173 

Freemasonry in Washington's Day 173 

E. A. — F. C. — M. M 173 

"The Lodge at Fredericksburg" 173 

By-Laws 174 

Masonic Life 174 

Alexandria Lodge chartered by Pennsylvania 175 

Charter Worshipful Master 175 

Laying the Capitol Cornerstone 175 

Historic Gavel 177 

Washington's Masonic Letters 177 


Washington Masonic Portraits 177 

Washington Masonic Legends 178 

Washington Masonic Bibles 179 

Washington's Masonic Aprons 179 

Masonic Dedications to Washington 180 

Proposed as Grand Master 181 

Sprig of Acacia 181 

Washington's Masonic History 181 

Part III 


Compiled by Albert Bushnell Hart 

English Family 182 

Virginia Family 183 

List of Authorities 183 

Pamphlet No. 1 5 


Compiled by Committee of American Library Association 

Introduction, by Albert Bushnell Hart 184 

Part 1 

Biography 185 

General Works on the Revolution and Following Period 185 

Fiction 186 

Part U 

Small Public Schools 186 

Elementary Schools 186 

High Schools . . 187 

Part 111 

Biographies 187 

Juveniles 187 

Books about the Times 188 

Fiction and Drama 188 

Part IV 

Bibliographies 189 

Biographies 189 

Washington's Writings 191 

CONTENTS— Continued 


A. Extended Editions 191 

B. Business Accounts 191 

C. Diaries 191 

D. Letters and Documents 192 

E. Rules of Civility 193 

F. Will 193 

Background of Washington's Career 193 

Contemporary Authorities 194 

Military Activities 196 

The Statesman 196 

Phases of Washington's Life 197 

A. Ancestry 197 

B. Business 197 

C. Death 197 

D. Education and Literature 197 

E. Engineer 197 

F. Farmer 197 

G. Inauguration 197 

H. Inventor 197 

I. Lands 197 

J. Libels 197 

K. Masonic Connection 198 

L. Religion 198 

M. Theater 198 

N. Travel 198 

O. War and Peace 198 

Literature relating to Washington 198 

A. Addresses, Eulogies, Essays 198 

B. Drama 198 

C. Fiction 199 

D. Poems 199 

Places associated with Washington 199 

Iconography 199 


Originated by and prepared under the direction of 

Mrs. John Dickinson Sherman 201 

Introduction to George Washington Programs 203 

Pledge to the Flag 204 

The American's Creed, by William Tyler Page 204 

Program One 


Description of Program Papers 204-A 

Family Name of Washington: Derivations and Changes 

(Paper No. 1 ) 20 5 

Paternal Ancestry (Paper No. 2) 206 

Maternal Ancestry (Paper No. 3) 207 

Brothers, Sister, Nieces, and Nephews (Paper No. 4) 207 

Stepchildren and Step-Grandchildren (Paper No. 5) 209 

Program Two 


Early History of Wakefield, the Birthplace, and Mount Ver- 
non ( Paper No. 1 ) 211 

Mount Vernon (Paper No. 2) 212 

Washington Homestead on the Rappahannock River 

(Paper No. 3) 214 

Migratory Abiding Places (Paper No. 4) 215 

Military Headquarters (Paper No. 5) 216 

Presidential Mansions (Paper No. 6) 218 

Program Three 


The Boyhood of George Washington and His Rules of 

Civility (Paper No. 1 ) 220 

Washington's Travels, Pursuits, and Ideals (Pre-Revolu- 

tionary Period) (Paper No. 2) 224 

The Man Himself (Paper No. 3) 22 5 

George Washington: His Friends and Enemies (Paper No. 4) 226 

Program Four 


Mary Ball in Early Life (Paper No. 1) 230 

Mary Ball Washington as Wife and Mother (Paper No. 2) 231 
Mary Ball Washington in Later Life (Paper No. 3) 233 

Program Five 


George Washington the Son (Paper No. 1) 235 

George Washington the Country Squire (Paper No. 2) . . . . 237 
George Washington the Husband (Paper No. 3) 23 8 

Program Srx 


George Washington the Surveyor (Paper No. 1) 240 

George Washington the Soldier through French and Indian 

War (Paper No. 2) 243 

George Washington the Commander in Chief (Paper No. 3) 245 

George Washington the Farmer (Paper No. 4) 249 

George Washington the Business Man and Engineer (Paper 

No. 5) 251 

George Washington the Citizen (Paper No. 6) 253 

Program Seven 


Inherited Religious Attitude (Paper No. 1) 256 

George Washington as a Christian: In Military Experiences 

(Paper No. 2) 257 

CONTENTS— Continued 


George Washington as a Christian: Revealed Religions Con- 
victions (Paper No. 3) 259 

Program Eight 


George Washington: Patron of Education (Paper No. 1) 261 
George Washington: Leader in Advancement of Civilization 

(Paper No. 2) 262 

George Washington: Leader in Philanthropy (Paper No. 3) 264 

Program Nine 


Social Life of Childhood Home (Paper No. 1) 267 

Social Life before the Revolution: At Williamsburg and 

Mount Vernon (Paper No. 2) 269 

Social Life in Later Years (Paper No. 3) 270 

Program Ten 


Military Experience under British Rule (Paper No. 1) . . . . 274 

Changing Views on British Control (Paper No. 2) 276 

Creation and Organization of a New Nation (Paper No. 3) 278 

Program Eleven 


Triumphant Journey as President-Elect (Paper No. 1) . 282 

First Term of the First President (Paper No. 2) 284 

The First Presidential Tours: New England, Long Island, 

and Rhode Island (Paper No. 3) 287 

The Southern Tour (Paper No. 4) 289 

Second Term of President Washington (Paper No. 5) 291 

Program Twelve 


Colonel and Mrs. Washington in Residence before the Revo- 
lution (Paper No. 1 ) 294 

War-time Households (Paper No. 2) 295 

Presidential Households (Paper No. 3) 297 

Last Years at Mount Vernon (Paper No. 4) 299 

Selected Books Relating to George Washington 300a 




By Hazel B. Nielson, Director of Educational Activities 301 

Washington and Our Schools and Colleges, by Charles W. 

Eliot, President of Harvard University in 1889 302 


The Handbook 303 

General Objectives and Aims 303 

Suggested Courses 303 

Suggested Time Requirement 303 


The Setting for the Course 305 

Background — Knowledge of the Historical and Geo- 
graphical Conditions 305 

Study of Maps of This Period 305 


Early Life of George Washington 308 

Birth — Time and Place 308 

Family 308 

Boyhood 309 

Significant Dates 310 


The Young Manhood of George Washington 312 

The Youth Himself 312 

Early Occupations 313 

Social Life 315 

Significant Dates 315 


George Washington a Leader of Men During the 

Struggle for Independence 317 

American Revolution 317 

George Washington in the Revolution 320 

Significant Dates 324 


George Washington a Private Citizen Immediately 

Following the Revolution 326 

Retirement to Mount Vernon Following Resignation 

of Commission 326 

Activities 327 

Social Life at Mount Vernon 328 

Fraternal Relations 329 

Man of Letters 329 

Significant Dates 330 


George Washington a Leader in the "Critical 

Period" of American History (1783-1789) 331 

Antecedents of the Constitution 331 

The Constitutional Convention 334 

Ratification of the Constitution (1787-1790) 336 

Significant Dates 336 

CONTENTS— Continued 



George Washington the Executive 337 

The First President of the United States 337 

Characteristics Portrayed 339 

Significant Dates 342 


George Washington a Private Citizen Following 

the Presidency 343 

Life at Mount Vernon 343 

Death and Will 345 

Mount Vernon a National Shrine 345 

Significant Dates 346 


Selected Tributes to George Washington 347 

Prior to the Centennial of His Birth (1832) 347 

At the Centennial (1832) 347 

Between the Centennial and Bicentennial 349 


Washington the Nation's Capital 352 

Washington the City Beautiful 353 

The Federal Government and Its Buildings 355 

The Municipal Government and Its Buildings 3 56 

Foreign Diplomatic Establishments 356 

Educational Institutions 3 56 

Shrines and Memorials in Washington 3 57 

Historic Homes 3 57 

Parks and Parkways 3 57 

Environs Related to the Life of George Washington 

and National History 357 

Projects in Connection with the George Washington 

Bicentennial 358 


Correlation of This Course with Other Subjects of 

the Curriculum 360 

Agriculture 361 

Art 361 

Business 363 

Civics 363 

Geography 365 

Health Education 365 

Home Economics 365 

Literature 365 

Music 366 

Outside Activities — Extra Curricular 368 


Contributions of George Washington to Civilization 369 
Elements of George Washington's Contributions 

Worthy of Emphasis 369 

Promotion of Student's Original Productions 369 

George Washington Bicentennial Pledge — Author, Mrs. 
John Dickinson Sherman 370 


Edited by Lawrence Martin 371 

Half-title, decorated with a map of Lawrence Washington's 
turnip field at Mount Vernon, drawn by George Wash- 
ington when he was 16 years old 371 

The United States Commission for the Celebration of the 
Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of George 
Washington, and the four geographical committees . . 372 

Title-page, decorated with a map by George Washington, 
drawn inside an ornamental compass at the age of 17 
years 373 

Preface; the tail piece was drawn by George Washington in 

1750 374 

Detailed table of contents with acknowledgments 378 

General map of George Washington's principal routes of 
travel, 1732-1799, with insert map of his sea voyage to 
Barbados in 1751-2 (Plate 1) 380 

Washington's maps (Plates 2-25), comprising facsimiles of 
28 manuscript maps made by George Washington be- 
tween 1747 and 1799, 7 manuscript maps used and 
amended by him, and 8 other maps including one 
(Plate 18) showing the localities where he did sur- 
veying 381 

State maps (Plates 26-34) 406 

Campaign maps (Plates 3 5-39) 415 

Battle maps (Plates 40-41), including one made at Wash- 
ington's direction and sent to Congress, and one dedi- 
cated to him 420 

City maps (Plates 42-47) 422 

Washington's lands including 69,615 acres, 24 city lots, and 
1 whole square (Plate 48), with place-names taken 
from Washington's autograph will 428 

Recognition of Washington (Plates 49-50), showing more 
than 600 uses of Washington's name throughout the 
world 429 

List of 164 maps made by George Washington or made by 
others but used and annotated by him, together with a 
description of 13 5 of Washington's lost maps; the chain, 
compasses, and scale at the end of the list were drawn 
by George Washington when he was 14 years old .... 432 

Index of The George Washington Atlas; the tail piece is a 

decorated map made by George Washington in 1749 . 43 8 

George Washington's autograph letter to one of his geogra- 
phers, Simeon De Witt, written August 29, 1781, in 
connection with the making of the maps for the march 
to Yorktown 443 

Savage's portrait of the Washington family at Mount Ver- 
non with the L'Enfant Plan of Washington, D. O, 
upon the table 444 

CONTENTS— Continued 



Compiled by David M. Matteson 445 

Introduction 446 

Letter to His Mother after Btaddock's Defeat, Fort Cum- 
berland, July 18, 175 5 447 

Letter to Bryan Fairfax on Resistance to Great Britain, 

Mount Vernon, 20 July, 1774 447 

Acceptance of Appointment as Commander in Chief, in 

Congress at Philadelphia, 16 June, 1775 448 

Address to the New York Provincial Congress on Civil and 

Military Power, New York, 26 June, 1775 449 

Letter to Lieutenant-General Gage on Rebellion, Headquar- 
ters, Cambridge, 20 August, 1775 449 

General Orders before the Battle of Long Island, Head- 
quarters, New York, August 23, 1776 450 

Letter to the President of Congress on Dependence on Mili- 
tia, Camp, above Trenton Falls, 20 December, 1776 450 

Letter to the President of Congress on Army Conditions, 

Valley Forge, 23 December, 1777 451 

Letter of Courtesy to Lieutenant-General Burgoyne, Head- 
quarters, 11 March, 1778 45 2 

Letter to Major-General Sullivan on Criticism of French 

Allies, Head-qrs., White Plains, 1st Sept., 1778 . . 453 

Letter to Count d'Estaing on Rhode Island Affair, Head- 
quarters, 11th Septem., 1778 45 3 

Letter to Henry Laurens on French Allies and Canada, 

Fred[ericksbur]g, [N. Y.,] 14th Novr., 1778 454 

Letter to Count de Rochambeau welcoming Him to Amer- 
ica, Head-quarters, New Jersey, 16 July, 1780 455 

Letter to Lord Cornwallis giving Terms of Surrender, Head 

Quarters, before York, 18 October, 1781 45 5 

General Orders on the Surrender of Yorktown, Head-quar- 
ters, before York, Saturday October 20th, 1781 456 

Letter to Colonel Lewis Nicola refusing to be made King, 

Newburg, 22 May, 1782 456 

Circular Letter addressed to the Governors of all the States 
on disbanding the Army, Head-quarters, Newburg, 8 
June, 1783 457 

Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States, Rocky 

Hill, Near Princeton, [Sunday] 2 November, 1783 . 460 

Address to Congress on resigning his Commission, Annapo- 
lis, 23 December, 1783 461 

Diary on Communication with the West, October 4, 1784 462 

Letter to Henry Lee, in Congress, on Shays Rebellion, 

Mount Vernon, 3 1 October, 1786 463 

Letter to Henry Knox on Crisis in the Confederation, 

Mount Vernon, 26 December, 1786 463 

Letter to Alexander Hamilton on The Federalist and Presi- 
dency, Mount Vernon, 28 August, 178 8 464 

Inaugural Address to Both Houses of Congress, April 30, 

1789 465 

Letter to John Jay on Democratic Societies and Whiskey 

Insurrection, Philadelphia, 1 November, 1794 466 


letter to Secretary Randolph on Jay Treaty, Mount Ver- 
non, 3 1 July, 1795 467 

Farewell Address to the People of the United States, Sep- 
tember 17th, 1796 467 

Letter to General Lafayette on Trouble with France, Mount 

Vernon, 2 5 December, 1798 472 

The Will of George Washington 473 

Washington and the Constitution of the United States . . 479 




JULY 8, 1775 

Introduction 486 

A Study of the "Olive Branch" Petition, by Randolph G. 

Adams 487 

Facsimile of the "Olive Branch" Petition 491 

Washington The Nation-Builder, Bicentennial Poem, written 

by Edwin Markham 498 





Compiled by David M. Matteson 499 

Introduction 500 

1756, September 2 5, Military Orders 501 

1758, April 17, Letter to Acting Governor John Blair 501 
1775, September 14, Letter and Instructions to Col. Benedict 

Arnold on Canadian Expedition 501 

1775, November 5, Military Orders 501 

1776, January 14, Letter to Joseph Reed 501 

1776, March 28, Answer to an Address from the Massachu- 
setts Legislature 502 

1776, May 1 5, Military Orders 502 

1776, July 9, Military Orders 502 

1776, August 3, Military Orders 502 

1776, August 2 5, Military Orders 502 

1777, April 15, Letter to Landon Carter 502 

1777, April 23, Letter to Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons 502 

1777, October 18, Military Orders 503 

1778, May 2, Military Orders 503 

1778, May 5, Military Orders 503 

1778, August 20, Letter to Gen. Thomas Nelson 503 

1781, October 20, Military Orders after Yorktown 503 

1782, June 28, To the Reverend the Minister, the Elders & 
Deacons of the reformed Protestant Dutch Church 

in the City of Albany 503 

1782, June 30, To the Minester Elders and Deacons of 
the Reformed Prodistant Dutch Churtch of the Town 
of Schenectady 504 

Spelling as in the original manuscript. 

CONTENTS— Continued 


1782, November 16, To the Dutch Church at Kingston, 

N. Y 504 

1783, April 18, Military Orders 504 

1783, June 8, Circular Letter addressed to the Governors 

of all the States on Disbanding the Army 5 04 

1783, August 21, To the Magistrates & Inhabitants of the 

the Borough of Elizabeth 505 

1783, November 2, Farewell Orders to the Armies of the 

United States 50 5 

1783, November 29, To the Minister Elders, Deacons & 
Members of the reformed German Congregation in 
the City of New York 50 5 

1783, December 2, To the Members of the Volunteer Asso- 
ciation and other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of 
Ireland who have lately arrived in the City of New 
York 505 

1783, December 13, To the Learned Professions of Phila- 
delphia 5 05 

1783, December 22, To the Mayor Recorder Aldermen and 

Common Council of the City of Annapolis 5 06 

1785, October 3, Letter to George Mason 506 

1787, August 15, Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette 506 

1789, April, To the Mayor, Corporation, and Citizens of 

Alexandria 506 

1789, April, To the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, and Com- 
mon Council of the City of Philadelphia 5 06 

1789, April 30, First Inaugural Address 506 

1789, May, To the Ministers, Church-Wardens, and Vestry- 
men of the German Lutheran Congregation in and 
near Philadelphia 507 

1789, May, To the General Committee, representing the 

United Baptist Churches in Virginia 507 

1789, May, To the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 

Church in the United States of America 508 

1789, May, To the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal 

Church in the United States of America 508 

1789, June, To the Ministers and Elders of the German 

Reformed Congregations in the United States 508 

1789, June 15, To the Governor and Council of the State of 

North-Carolina 5 08 

1789, July 9, To the Senate and House of Representatives 

of the State of Massachusetts 5 09 

1789, July, To the Directors of the Society of the United 
Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the 
Heathen 5 09 

1789, August 19, To the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the States of New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mary- 
land, Virginia, and South Carolina, in general Conven- 
tion assembled 5 09 

1789, October 3, By the President of the United States of 

America, A Proclamation 5 09 

1789, October, To the Religious Society Called Quakers, 
from their yearly meeting for Pennsylvania, New Jer- 


sey, Delaware, and the Western Part of Maryland 
and Virginia 510 

1789, October, To the Synod of the Reformed Dutch 

Church in North America 510 

1789, October, To the Congregational Ministers of the City 

of New Haven 510 

1789, November 2, To the Ministers and Ruling Elders 
delegated to represent the Churches in Massachusetts 
and New Hampshire, which compose the first Presby- 
tery of the Eastward 511 

1789, December, To the Roman Catholics in the United 
States of America 511 

1790, To the Convention of the Universal Church lately 
assembled in Philadelphia 512 

1790 (?), To the Hebrew Congregations in the Cities of 

Philadelphia, New York, Charleston and Richmond . 512 
1790, March, To the Members of the religious Society of 

free Quakers 512 

1790, May, To the Hebrew Congregation of the City of 

Savannah 512 

1790, August, To the Clergy of the Town of Newport in 

the State of Rhode Island 513 

1790, August, To the Hebrew Congregation in New Port, 
Rhode Island 513 

1791, May, To the congregational Church and Society at 
Medway (formerly St. John's Parish) State of 
Georgia 513 

1791, May 31, To the United Brethren in Wachovia 514 

1792, October 20, Letter to Sir Edward Newenham 514 

1793, January, To the members of the New [Swedenbor- 
gian] Church at Baltimore 514 

1793, January 27, Letter to George Augustine Washington 514 
1793, August, To the Inhabitants of the City of Hartford . 514 

1793, August 28, To the Inhabitants of Richmond, and its 
Vicinity 514 

1794, November 19, Sixth Annual Address to Congress ... 515 
1796, September 17, Farewell Address to the People of the 

United States 515 

1796, December 7, Eighth Annual Address to Congress. ... 515 

1796, December, Reply to a Masonic Address 515 

1797, March, To the Rector, Church Wardens, & Vestry- 
men of the United Episcopal churches of Christ 
Church and St. Peters 515 

1797, March, To the Clergy of different Denominations, re- 
siding in and near the City of Philadelphia 516 

1797, To the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island 

&ca 516 

Washington's Religious Life 517 

Facsimile of the Original First Thanksgiving Proclamation, 
issued by President George Washington on October 
3, 1789 521 

Text of the First Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued by 

President George Washington, October 3, 1789 522 

CONTENTS— Contin ued 



By Walton C. John, Senior Specialist in Higher Education, 
United States Office of Education, and Alma H. 
Preinkert, Assistant Registrar, University of Mary- 
land 523 

Introduction 524 

Foreword, by Win. John Cooper, United States Commis- 
sioner of Education 525 

Chapter I 

His Early Education 527 

Educational Activities 528 

Educational Honors 529 

Washington's Library 530 

Works on Education 531 

Educational Subjects included in His Writings 53 2 

Arrangement of Writings on Education 532 

Chapter II 

Letters, Diaries, and Addresses having References to Educa- 
tion 533 

Selections from George Washington's Will 5 54 




Depicting the Life of George Washington and His Time, 

compiled by James K. Knudson 557 

Introduction 5 5 8 

How To Select Plays and Pageants 5 59 

General Reference Index 5 59 

Reference Index for Schools 5 59 

Pageants and Plays Published by the United States George 

Washington Bicentennial Commission 561 

Publishers' Pageants and Plays 565 

Publisher's Index 570 

Dramatic Collections 571 


Introduction 575 

Part I 

By Edith Porter Lapish 

Costume in the Time of George Washington 577 

Dress of Colonial Ladies 577 


Men's Apparel in Washington's Time 5 82 

Dress of Colonial Children 584 

Washington's Attention to Dress 585 

Part II 

By Major R. B. Lawrence 

Military Uniforms and Stage Properties 590 

Uniforms of American Army 590 

Suggested Uniforms for Pageants and Plays 594 

Glossary 596 

Costume Chart 598 


Written for the Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anni- 
versary of the Birth of George Washington 601 

Foreword 601 

George Washington and The Theatre, excerpts from an ad- 
dress by Hon. Sol Bloom, Associate Director, United 
States George Washington Bicentennial Commission . 602 
The following plays were written by Major R. B. Law- 
rence of the Play and Pageant Department of the United 
States George Washington Bicentennial Commission, with the 
exception of "The Blue Goblet," which was written by Mr. 
James K. Knudson, of the same Department: 
















The following plays were contributed by the play- 
wrights indicated: 

'TWIXT CUP AND LIP, by Pauline Hopkins and Ellen 

Garrigues 670 

WASHINGTON DANCED, by France Goldwater 677 


Coontz 682 

THE WASHINGTONS AT HOME, by Dwight Marfield 708 


List of Illustrations 


Gilbert Stuart "Athenaeum" portrait of George Washington 

in colors Frontispiece 

George Washington, from a portrait by Saint Mcmin . . . 4 
Tbc "Virginia Goloncl," portrait of George Washington by 

Charles Willson Pealc, painted at Mount Vernon in 1772 5 
Map showing the Indian Frontier in Washington's Youth 12 

Washington as a Surveyor, from an engraving by G. R. 

Hall, after a painting by F. O. C. Darley 16 

The "Vaughan" portrait of George Washington by Gilbert 

Stuart 17 

Facsimile of a George Washington Letter 21 

George Washington — Houdon Statue, Capitol, Richmond, 

Va 29 

George Washington, from Portrait by Wertmueller 3 

George Washington on His Farm — from a painting by 

Chappcl 40 

George Washington, from an engraving by Amos Doolittle, 

after a portrait by Joseph Wright 41 

Mount Vernon, from a rare aquatint, engraved by Francis 
Jukes, after Alexander Robertson, 1800, in the William 

L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich 49 

George Washington, from a contemporary silhouette 5 

The Day's Beginning, from a painting by J. L. G. Ferris 5 9 

"Gibbs-Channing portrait" of George Washington painted 

by Gilbert Stuart in 1795 60 

Washington Resigning His Commission, from a painting 

by John Trumbull 71 

George Washington, an oval reproduction from the Gilbert 

Stuart "Athenaeum" portrait 72 

George Washington, from the Edward Savage portrait . . 83 

First in Peace, from painting by Henry Hintermeister . . 94 
George Washington, from the bust by Joseph Nollekens, 

modeled in London about 1805 95 

Map of Mount Vernon, sent by George Washington to 

Arthur Young in England, 1793 98 

George Washington, from portrait by Charles Willson Peale 106 
Map showing Washington's Journey to Fort Le Boeuf, 175 3 107 

Map showing Roads to Fort Duquesne 108 

Map of the Colonies 109 

Map showing position of army around Boston 1 

Map showing Vicinity of New York 1 

Map showing American lines in New York 1 

Map showing Battle of Long Island 1 

Maps showing disposition of forces around White Plains 1 

Map showing Retreat across New Jersey, 1776 1 

Map showing New Jersey and Pennsylvania shores of Dela- 
ware River 1 

Map of vicinity of Brandy wine 114 

Map of Vicinity of Germantown 114 

Map of Monmouth 117 

Map of Stony Point, 1779 1 

Map of Camden 1 

Map of American and British Fortifications around Charles- 
ton 118 


Map of Operations in Virginia 119 

Map of Siege of Yorktown 120 

A Private in the Continental Army 122 

George Washington, frame portrait by John Trumbull in 

the City Hall at Charleston, S. C 123 

George Washington, from a painting by Gilbert Stuart . 13 5 

A page from Washington's Cash Memorandum Book 13 8 

George Washington, from a painting by Charles Willson 

Peale, in the New York Historical Society 150 

A Survey by George Washington in 1750 (From the orig- 
inal in the Boston Public Library) 152 

George Washington's Map Accompanying his "Journey to 

the Ohio," 1753 153 

Washington's Experimental Barn 154 

Remains of Washington's Potomac Canal 157 

Remains of one of the Potomac Canal Locks 158 

Mills' Design for the Washington Monument 164 

The Washington Monument Today. 165 

The Williams Masonic Portrait of George Washington, 
painted from life and now in the possession of Alexandria- 
Washington Lodge No. 22, Alexandria, Va 166 
Masonic Procession at Laying of Cornerstone of the Na- 
tional Capitol, 1793 178 

Washington The President-Mason, from a painting by Hat- 
tie Burdette 178 

The Lafayette Masonic Apron 180 

George Washington, from a portrait by Rembrandt Peale, 
known as the Porthole Portrait, in the New York Histori- 
cal Society 185 

Order for Books by George Washington 192 

George Washington as painted by different artists — Charles 
Willson Peale, Robert Edge Pine, James Peale and James 

Sharpies 200 

The Washington Family at Home 205 

Standish Pew in Chorley Parish Church, England 210 

Mount Vernon, Virginia — River Front 211 

Mount Vernon from an Airplane View 219 

First Page of the Rules of Civility 220 

George Washington Crossing the Allegheny River, 175 3 229 

An Apocryphal Portrait of Mary Ball Washington 23 

Nellie Custis' Wedding on Washington's Last Birthday, from 

a painting by H. A. Ogden 235 

George Washington's First Meeting with Martha Custis. . . 239 
Washington as a Soldier, from a portrait by Rembrandt 

Peale 240 

Washington Reading Prayers in Camp on the Frontier 256 

Washington and His Generals, from an engraving by A. 

H. Ritchie 261 

George Washington The Leader of Men: As a Surveyor; As 

a Farmer; As a Statesman; and as a Soldier 266 

A Reception by Mrs. Washington, from a painting by 
Henry A. Ogden 267 



Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, Pa., where George Washing- 
ton attended the First Continental Congress 74 

President Washington and the First Cabinet 282 

The Reception of President-Elect Washington at the Bridge 

at Trenton 293 

Washington and Family, from a painting by Edward Savage 294 

George Washington, from the Houdon Bust 304 

Sulgrave Manor, England, Home of George Washington's 

Ancestors 305 

Map of Virginia, 1738 307 

"Epping Forest," Virginia (Birthplace of Mary Ball Wash- 
ington) 307 

Wakefield, Virginia, Birthplace of George Washington 308 

George Washington's Knife 311 

Home and Garden of Mary Ball Washington in Fredericks- 
burg, Va 311 

The first known portrait of George Washington by Charles 

Willson Peale 312 

Martha Washington as a Young Woman — painted by John 

Woolaston in 1757 315 

William and Mary College in 1774 316 

George Washington, portrait painted by John Trumbull in 

1792, now at Yale University 317 

Washington Crossing the Delaware, from painting by 

George Harding 325 

Washington Family, painting by Thomas P. Rossiter (1817- 

1871) 325 

Music Room at Mount Vernon 328 

The Gardens at Mount Vernon, laid out by George Wash- 
ington 330 

Independence Hall, Philadelphia 331 

Liberty Bell 333 

Washington's Diary of September 17, 1787, on close of Fed- 
eral Convention 335 

The Federal Building, New York City 336 

George Washington, from an engraving by Amos Doolittle, 

after a portrait by Joseph Wright 337 

The First Cabinet of President Washington 338 

Mount Vernon — National Shrine (Airplane view) 343 

Martha Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart 344 

The Mansion at Mount Vernon, overlooking the Potomac 

River 346 

National Monument to Washington 347 

Centennial Badge, 1832 348 

Statue of George Washington by Lorado Taft, at the Uni- 
versity of Washington, Seattle, Wash 3 5 1 

The United States Capitol 352 

The Arlington Memorial Bridge 3 59 

Alexandria Academy, Alexandria, Virginia 360 

George Washington Commemorative Medal 368 

George Washington — Houdon Statue, Richmond, Va 3 69 

George Washington's letter to one of his geographers, Simeon 
De Witt, written August 29, 1781 443 


Portrait of the Washington family at Mount Vernon, with 
the L'Enfant Plan of Washington, D. C, upon the table; 
painted by Edward Savage between 1789 and 1796 444 
Facsimile of the beginning of the Constitution of the 
United States, from the original in the Library of Con- 
gress, Washington, D. C 484 

The Continental Congress in Session, after a painting by 
Robert Edge Pine and Edward Savage, now in Independ- 
ence Hall, Philadelphia 490 

Facsimile of The "Olive Branch" Petition sent by the Con- 
tinental Congress to King George III in July, 1775 491 

First Prayer offered in Congress 516 

Pohick Church, Pohick, Virginia 517 

Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia 518 

Falls Church, at Falls Church, Virginia 519 

In the Hour of Trial, from a painting by Percy Moran 5 20 

Facsimile of original First Thanksgiving Proclamation, is- 
sued by President George Washington on October 3, 1789 521 

The Alexandria Academy, Alexandria, Va 526 

Page of eight pictures 572 

Original Dress of Martha Washington 574 

Original Dress of Elizabeth Monroe 576 

Original Dress of Dolly Madison 576 

Costume Plate 1, Colonial Lady 578 

Costume Plate 2, Evening Wear 578 

Costume Plate 3, Morning Dress 579 

Costume Plate 4, Home Dress 579 

Costume Plate 5, Colonial Lady 580 

Costume Plate 6, Watteau Pleated Gown 580 

Costume Plate 7, Morning Dress 581 

Costume Plate 8, Brocade Gown 581 

Costume Plate 9, Colonial Gentleman 582 

Costume Plate 10, Colonial Travelling Costume 583 

Costume Plate 11, Colonial Boy 585 

Costume Plate 12, Play Dress for Colonial Boys and Girls. . 5 85 

Costume Plate 13, Colonial Lady 586 

Costume Plate 14, Colonial Lady 586 

Costume Plate 15, Colonial Lady 587 

Costume Plate 16, Colonial Lady 587 

Costume Plate 17, Outdoor Dress for Girls 588 

Costume Plate 18, Boy's Hunting Dress 588 

Costume Plate 19, Washington's Uniform 589 

Costume Plate 20, Party Costumes for Boys 589 

Costume Plate 21, American Officer 590 

Costume Plate 22, American Private 590 

Costume Plate 23, British Private 591 

Costume Plate 24, British Officer 591 

Costume Plate 2 5, Minuteman 592 

Costume Plate 26, Frontiersman 592 

Costume Plate 27, French Private 593 

Costume Plate 28, French Officer 593 

Costume Plate 29, Details of Colonial Uniform 594 

Costumes Worn in the American Colonies 1740-1800 598 

Publications of the 

United States George Washington 

Bicentennial Commission 

The commemorative volumes issued by the United States George 
Washington Bicentennial Com mission contain the complete 
history of the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration. 


The literature series, of which this is the first volume, consists of volumes 
I, II and III, and contains the publications of the United States George 
Washington Bicentennial Commission, issued in connection with the 
Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of George 
Washington. These volumes present authentic historical information 
concerning George Washington, which was obtained after the most 
painstaking research. 


The series on Foreign Participation contains the activities of the Cele- 
bration in 81 foreign countries, divided into sections as follows: Western 
Europe, Eastern Europe, Near East, Far East, Canada, Mexico, Central 
America, South America, West Indies, and Africa. 


The series on the Activities of the Celebration contains the report of the 
National Organizations, States, cities, towns, and communities, including 
municipal activities and programs given by religious, fraternal, patriotic, 
educational and other groups. 

United States 
George Washington Bicentennial Commission 

washington, d. c. 

Honor To 
George Washington 


Reading About George Washington 

^A Series of Fifteen Pamphlets 


Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart 

Titles of Pamphlets of the scries 

Honor to George Washington 


Reading About George Washington 


By David M. Matteson. 


By Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart. 


By Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart. 


By David M. Matteson. 


By Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick. 


By David M. Matteson. 


By David M. Matteson. 


By Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart. 


By James Hosmer Penniman. 


By Col. Samuel C. Vestal. 


By Prof. Archibald Henderson. 


By Hon. Sol Bloom. 


By Lieut. Col. U. S. Grant, 3d. 


By Carl H. Claudy. 


By Committee of American Library Association. 


THE series of pamphlets under the general title "Honor to George 
Washington" is divided into distinct subjects, each of which is ex- 
pertly treated. This arrangement follows a systematic plan of develop- 
ment. It was considered advisable to deal with the life of Washington 
in this series of pamphlets by episodes and phases rather than in the usual 
historical order. 

There are in existence a bewildering number of "lives of Washing- 
ton" which chronicle significant events in his life, and most of these 
books are generally available to all readers. But to know George Wash- 
ington, to place a proper valuation upon his character and services, and 
to appreciate those elements of his manhood which contributed to the 
sum of his greatness, we must study Washington by episodes in his life 
and by phases of his character. More important still is the fact that the 
material appearing in this series, and in all other publications of this Com- 
mission, has the seal of historical authenticity. Every statement and 
reference has been examined with the utmost care by the eminent his- 
torians of the Commission. 

The readers of these chapters will find much material that is new, 
or that has been rescued from literary obscurity. They will find that 
these compilations have been arranged for the convenience of the 
student, as well as the casual biographical reader. The judgment of 
the Commission in so compiling and publishing these studies of George 
Washington has been amply vindicated by the tremendous demand for 
the work and by the intelligent and sympathetic comment that has come 
from students generally. 

George Washington 

From a portrait by Saint Mcmin 

Pamphlet Number One 


ironed of Washington's Career 

By David M, Matteson 

Part I 
Period of WashioMton's Youth 

George Washington 

By Charles Willson Peale 

The "Virginia Colonel" portrait, painted at Mount Vernon in 1772, 
when Washington was 40 years of age. The original hangs in the Lee 
Memorial Chapel of Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Va. 


HAT George Washington became 
the foremost figure in the colony 
of Virginia and afterwards in the 
United States of America was not 
due to chance or to the favor of powerful 
men or to wealthy marriage. The rise of 
Washington to responsibility, to fame, and to 
leadership was the outcome of conditions in 
the colony of his birth and growth which 
gave opportunity to a young man of charac- 
ter and ability. If Washington had been born 
in Massachusetts he would have made a for- 

tune in shipbuilding and foreign com- 
merce and trade which gave the largest op- 
portunities in that colony. Had he been a 
Pennsylvanian he would have been one of the 
spirited group which included Franklin and 
Reed and Morris in developing a commercial 
community. As a descendant of three gen- 
erations of planters on Virginia soil he ac- 
cepted the conditions of his time and place. 
Only it was in him from youth upward to 
make the best of those conditions, to improve 
them and to aid in creating more permanent 
and prosperous conditions for the colonies. 

In many respects young Washington was 
a backwoodsman of the same type as the 
eager spirits from the coast colonies who 
were pushing out into central New York and 
the mountain regions of Pennsylvania, Mary- 
land and the Carolinas. Most of those re- 
gions he visited in the course of his life. 
He invested a good part of his fortune in 
western lands, then far beyond settlement. 
He was a frontiersman but at the same time 
he foresaw the growth of mining and manu- 
facturing and transportation which were to 
make those frontier regions, then peopled 
only by scattered Indian tribes, equal in 
wealth and prosperity to the seacoast states. 
From the beginning of his active life to his 
last days, the mind of Washington was bent 
on bringing his state of Virginia and all the 
western region into populous, prosperous, and 
enduring communities. A frontiersman by 
descent and education, he was always push- 
ing to raise the community in which he lived 
into a stable social and economic situation. 
To understand Washington therefore, it is 
necessary to know accurately how frontiers- 
men from 1732 to the end of the Revolution 
lived and worked and associated with their 
fellow men. 


Twenty years before Washington's birth, 
there came to Virginia the first governor of 
the colony who interested himself in the de- 
velopment of the frontier. Governor Alex- 
ander Spotswood was an energetic, far- 
sighted man who set himself to the task of 
bringing in a class of active immigrants and 
developing the resources of the back country. 
Much of the colony even in the tide-water 
region was still undeveloped. The rivers 
were the natural highways and a large part 
of the population lived on or close to those 
rivers, particularly the wealthy land owners 
and slave owners who were the political, so- 
cial, and economic leaders of the colony. 
The main crop was tobacco which speedily 
exhausted the land and made it necessary to 
clear new areas. It was difficult for men 
without money in hand to buy land and the 
middle class farmers were always at a dis- 
advantage. The region between the tide- 
water heads of the rivers and the mountains 
contained few settlers. Even the Valley of 
Virginia between the Blue Ridge and the 
Alleghenies, the garden spot of Virginia, was 
still unsettled. 

Honor to George Washington 

Though the Valley previously had been 
entered from the north, Governor Spots- 
wood's company of gallant gentlemen in 
1716 was the first organized one to surmount 
the Blue Ridge, at Swift Run Gap, and to 
reach the South Shenandoah River. One of 
the members of the party, John Fontaine, 
kept a journal of the expedition which 
called itself "Knights of the Golden Horse- 

"5th [of September.] — A fair day. At 
nine we were mounted; we were obliged to 
have axe-men to clear the way in some places. 
We followed the windings of the James 
River, observing that it came from the very 
top of the mountains. We killed two rattle- 
snakes during our ascent. In some places it 
was very steep, in others, it was so that we 
could ride up. About one of the clock we 
got to the top of the mountain; about four 
miles and a half, and we came to the very 
head spring of James River, where it runs no 
bigger than a man's arm, from under a large 
stone. We drank King George's health, and 
all the Royal Family's, at the very top of the 
Appalachian mountains. About a musket- 
shot from the spring there is another, which 
rises and runs down on the other side; it goes 
westward, and we thought we could go down 
that way, but we met with such prodigious 
precipices, that we were obliged to return 
to the top again. We found some trees 
which had been formerly marked, I suppose, 
by the Northern Indians, and following these 
trees, we found a good, safe descent. Several 
of the company were for returning; but the 
Governor persuaded them to continue on. 
About five, we were down on the other side, 
and continued our way for about seven miles 
further, until we came to a large river, by 
the side of which we encamped. . . . 6th. — 
We crossed the river, which we called Eu- 
phrates. . . . We drank some healths on the 
other side, and returned; . . . We had a good 
dinner, and after it we got the men together, 
and loaded all their arms, and we drank the 
King's health in Champagne, and fired a vol- 
ley — the Princess's health, in Burgundy, and 
fired a volley, and all the rest of the Royal 
Family in claret, and a volley. We drank 
the Governor's health and fired another vol- 
ley. We had several sorts of liquors, viz., 
Virginia red wine and white wine, Irish 
usquebaugh, brandy, shrub, two sorts of 
rum, champagne, canary, cherry, punch, 
water, cider, &c. . . . 7th — At seven in the 
morning we mounted our horses, and parted 
with the rangers, who were to go farther on, 
and we returned homewards; . . ." 


The Washington estates when George 
Washington was a boy were all on or near 
the tide rivers, but at the time of Washing- 
ton's birth the population was pushing out to 
the frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, 
Maryland, and Pennsylvania; and Governor 
Spotswood had still another idea in his mind 
with which Washington was later to be 

concerned. Spotswood said that "The Chief 
Aim of my Expedition over the great Moun- 
tains in 1716, was to satisfy my Self 
whether it was practicable to come at the 
Lakes," in order to trade with the Indians 
and check the French advance in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley. However, the more im- 
mediate result was the settlement of the 
Shenandoah Valley. Non-English settlers 
came to Pennsylvania from the beginning; 
they were encouraged by the proprietary, and 
were soon found in the region west of the 
Susquehanna. Thence through York, Cum- 
berland, and Adams counties to the Maryland 
line following an Indian trail, later developed 
into the Monocacy Road, the pioneers came 
into Maryland about 1729. The route crossed 
the Ridge by Crampton's Gap, in the region 
later made famous by the Antietam cam- 
paign, and then across the Potomac by a 
ford above present Harper's Ferry. Though 
there may have been earlier attempts, the 
first permanent settlement of the Valley be- 
gan in 1727. 


That portion of the Valley drained by the 
Shenandoah, the part with which Washing- 
ton was first acquainted and where his own 
lands were, was settled mostly by Germans. 
Benjamin Rush in 1789 noted the special 
characteristic of these "Pennsylvania Dutch," 
and it is interesting to trace in them possi- 
ble influences upon Washington's own traits 
as a scientific farmer, as described in another 
pamphlet in this series. 

"In settling a tract of land, they always 
provide large and suitable accommodations 
for their horses and cattle, before they lay 
out much money in building a house for 
themselves. The barn and stables are gen- 
erally under one roof, and contrived in such 
manner as to enable them to feed their horses 
and cattle, and to remove their dung, with 
as little trouble as possible. The first dwell- 
ing house upon this farm is small, and built 
of logs. It generally lasts the life time of the 
first settler of a tract of land; and hence they 
have a saying that 'a son should always be- 
gin his improvements where his father left 
off' — that is, by building a large and con- 
venient stone house. 

"They always prefer good land or that 
land on which there is a large quantity of 
meadow ground. From an attention to the 
cultivation of grass, they often double the 
value of an old farm in a few years, and 
grow rich on farms, on which their prede- 
cessors of whom they purchased them, have 
nearly starved. They prefer purchasing 
farms with some improvements to settling a 
new tract of land. 

"From the history that has been given to 
the German agriculture, it will hardly be 
necessary to add that a German farm may be 
distinguished from the farms of the other 
citizens of the state, by the superior size of 
their barns; the plain, but compact form of 
their houses; the height of their inclosures; 
the extent of their orchards; the fertility of 

their fields; the luxuriance of their meadows, 
and a general appearance of plenty and neat- 
ness in everything that belongs to them." 


The insistence on good land usually meant 
rich forest growth, likely to be a limestone 
area, but also meadowland. Washington in 
various places in his Diaries estimates the 
probable value of land much on this basis. 
For instance: "March 13 [1748] Rode to his 
Lordships Quarter about 4 Miles higher up y. 
River we went through most beautiful 
Groves of Sugar Trees and spent ye. best part 
of y. Day in admiring ye. Trees and richness 
of ye Land." October 13, 1770: "The Lands 
we travelld over today till we had crossd 
the Laurel Hill (except in small spots) was 
very mountainous and indifferent, but when 
we came down the Hill to the Plantation of 
Mr. Thos. Gist, the Ld. appeard charming; 
that which lay level being as rich and black 
as any thing could posibly be; the more 
Hilly kind, tho of a different complexion 
must be good, as well from the Crops it pro- 
duces, as from the beautiful white Oaks that 
grows thereon, the white Oak in generl. indi- 
cates poor Land, yet this does not appear to 
be of that cold kind." October 15: "The 
Lands which I passed over to day were gen- 
erally Hilly, and the growth chiefly white 
Oak, but very good notwithstanding; and 
what is extraordinary, and contrary to the 
property of all other Lands I ever saw before, 
the Hills are the richest Land; and the Soil 
upon the Sides and Summits of them, being 
as black as Coal and the Growth, Walnut, 
Cherry, Spice Bushes, etca." October 30: 
"A Mile or two below this we Landed, and 
after getting a little distance from the River 
we came (without any rising) to a pretty 
lively kind of Land grown up with Hicky. 
and oaks of different kinds, intermixed with 
Walnut, etca. here and there." November 5 : 
"This is a good Neck of Land the Soil being 
generally good; and in places very rich. 
Their is a large proportion of Meadow 
Ground, and the Land as high, dry and 
Level as one coud wish. The growth in most 
places is beach intermixed with walnut, etca., 
but more especially with Poplar (of which 
there are numbers very large). The Land 
towards the upper end is black oak, and very 
good; upon the whole a valuable Tract might 
be had here, . . ." September 8, 1784: "I 
. . . recrossed ... to a tract of mine on the 
Virginia side which I find exceedingly Rich, 
and must be very valuable — the lower end 
of the Land is rich white oak in place 
springey; and in the winter wet. — the upper 
part is exceedingly rich and covered with 
Walnut of considerable size many of them." 


Mixed with these Germans were some 
Scotch-Irish, but for the most part the latter 
continued on to the upper part of the Shenan- 
doah and over the watershed to the southern 
slope of the Valley. For this there is a 
probable reason in the character of the 

Frontier Background of Washington's Career 


people. Logan, Perm's agent, in 1724 wrote 
of the Scotch-Irish as "bold and indigent 
strangers, saying as their excuse, when chal- 
lenged for titles, that we had solicited for 
colonists and they had come accordingly." 
Again, in 1727: "They say the Proprietor in- 
vited people to come and settle his country; 
they came for that end, and must live. Both 
they and the Palatines pretend that they will 
buy, but not one in twenty has anything to 
pay with. The Irish settle generally toward 
the Maryland line, where no lands can hon- 
estly be sold till the dispute with Lord Balti- 
more is decided." In 173 Logan wrote that 
the Irish alleged that "it was against the 
laws of God and nature, that so much land 
should be idle while so many Christians 
wanted it to labor on and raise their bread." 
The Germans, while many of them were 
originally squatters in the Valley, would pay 
for the land if the alternative was to move 
on. They were, in other words, permanent 
settlers by instinct. With the Scotch-Irish 
the reverse was true: they were in the van of 
the pioneers not only because of their ad- 
venturous spirit, but because of their un- 
willingness to acknowledge the rights of the 
holders of great grants. 

Washington himself had an experience 
with such adventurers. They had squatted 
on land he claimed in southwestern Pennsyl- 
vania, and after he had ineffectually endeav- 
ored personally to compromise with them in 
1784 he went to law and ousted them. 
September 14, 1784: "This day also the 
People who lives on my land on Millers Run 
came here to set forth their pretensions to 
it; and to enquire into my Right — after 
much conversation and attempts in them to 
discover all the flaws they could in my Deed 
&ca. — and to establish a fair and upright 
intention in themselves — and after much 
councelling which proceeded from a division 
of opinion among themselves — they resolved 
(as all who lived on the land were not here) 
to give me their definite determination when 
I should come to the land, which I told them 
would probably happen on Friday or Satur- 
day next." September 19: "Being Sunday, 
and the People living on my Land, appar- 
ently very religious, it was thought best to 
postpone going among them until tomor- 
row." September 20: "Dined at David 
Reeds, after which Mr. James Scot and Squire 
Reed began to enquire whether I would part 
with the Land, and upon what terms; adding, 
that tho' they did not conceive they could 
be dispossessed, yet to avoid contention, they 
would buy, if my terms were Moderate. I 
told them I had no inclination to sell; how- 
ever, after hearing a great deal of their hard- 
ships, their Religious principles (which had 
brought them together as a Society of Ce- 
deders) and unwillingness to seperate or re- 
move; I told them I would make them a last 
offer . . . they then determined to stand suit 
for the Land; . . ." September 22: "I set 
out for Beason Town, in order to meet with, 
and engage Mr. Thomas Smith to bring 

ejectments, and to prosecute my Suit for the 
Land in Washington County, on which those, 
whose names are herein inserted, are settled." 


These Scotch-Irish were not the only 
border settlers; there was a mingling of 
Germans, English, Scots, some Huguenots, 
and even a few Catholic-Irish, Hollanders, 
and Swedes. Of this mixture Roosevelt 
has written: "A single operation, passed 
under the hard conditions of life in the 
wilderness, was enough to weld together into 
one people the representatives of these nu- 
merous and widely different races; and the 
children of the next generation became in- 
distinguishable from one another. . . . Their 
grim, harsh, narrow lives were yet strangely 
fascinating and full of adventurous toil and 
danger; none but natures as strong, as free- 
dom-loving, and as full of bold defiance as 
theirs could have endured existence on the 
terms which these men found pleasurable. 
Their iron surroundings made a mould which 
turned out all alike in the same shape. They 
resembled one another, and they differed 
from the rest of the world — even the world 
of America, and infinitely more, the world 
of Europe — in dress, in customs, and in mode 
of life." 


Washington's frontier relations, in both 
peace and war, had a large influence upon his 
development and policies. His experiences 
with the Indians in the warfare with the 
French, and his interest in western develop- 
ment, are treated in other articles of these 
pamphlets; here the purpose is to give some 
idea of the character and life of these fron- 
tiersmen with whom he was brought in con- 
tact, first in the Valley and later in present 
West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. 
Washington in his account of the journey 
to the French commandant on the upper 
Ohio in 1753 illustrates the hardships en- 
countered by those who traversed the wilder- 
ness. December 23, 1753: "Our Horses 
were now [after leaving Venango on the 
return] so weak and feeble, and the Baggage 
so heavy (as we were obliged to provide all 
the Necessaries which the Journey would re- 
quire) that we doubted much their perform- 
ing it; therefore myself and others (except 
the Drivers, who were obliged to ride) gave 
up our Horses for Packs, to assist along with 
the Baggage. I put myself in an Indian 
walking Dress, and continued with them 
three Days, till I found there was no Proba- 
bility of their getting home in any reason- 
able Time. The Horses grew less able to 
travel every Day; and the Cold increased 
very fast; and the Roads were becoming 
much worse by a deep Snow, continually 
freezing: Therefore as I was uneasy to get 
back, to make Report of my Proceedings to 
his Honour, the Governor, I determined to 
prosecute my Journey the nearest Way 
through the Woods, on Foot. 

"Accordingly I left Mr. Vanbraam in 
Charge of our Baggage: with Money and 
Directions to Provide Necessaries from Place 
to Place for themselves and Horses, and to 
make the most convenient Dispatch in Trav- 

"I took my necessary Papers; pulled off 
my Cloaths; and tied myself up in a Match 
Coat. Then with Gun in Hand and Pack 
on my Back, in which were my Papers and 
Provisions, I set-out with Mr. Gist, fitted 
in the same Manner, on Wednesday the 26th. 

"The Day following, just after we had 
passed a Place called the Murdering-Tov/n 
(where we intended to quit the Path, and 
steer across the Country for Shannapins 
Town) we fell in with a Party of French 
Indians, who had lain in Wait for us. One 
of them fired at Mr. Gist, or me, not 1 5 
steps off, but fortunately missed. We took 
this fellow into Custody, and kept him till 
about 9 o'clock at Night; Then let him go, 
and walked all the remaining Part of the 
Night without making any Stop; that we 
might get the start, so far, as to be out of 
the Reach of their Pursuit the next Day, 
since we were well assured they would follow 
our Tract as soon as it was light. The next 
Day we continued travelling till quite dark, 
and got to the River [Allegheny] about two 
Miles above Shannapins. We expected to 
have found the River frozen, but it was not, 
only about 50 Yards from each Shore; The 
Ice I suppose had broken up above, for it was 
driving in vast Quantities. 

"There was no way for getting over but 
on a Raft; Which we set about with but one 
poor Hatchet, and finished just after Sun- 
setting. This was a whole Day's Work. 
Then set off; But before we were Half Way 
over, we were jammed in the Ice, in such a 
Manner that we expected every Moment our 
Raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I 
put-out my setting Pole to try to stop the 
Raft, that the Ice might pass by; when the 
Rapidity of the Stream threw it with so 
much violence against the Pole, that it jerked 
me out into ten Feet Water: but I fortu- 
nately saved myself by catching hold of one 
of the Raft Logs. Notwithstanding all our 
efforts we could not get the Raft to either 
Shore; but were obliged, as we were near an 
Island to quit our Raft and make to it. 

"The Cold was so extremely severe, that 
Mr. Gist had all his Fingers, and some of his 
Toes frozen; but the water was shut up so 
hard, that we found no Difficulty in getting- 
off the Island, on the Ice, in the Morning, and 
went to Mr. Brazier's." 


One of the largest landgrants in Virginia 
was the Northern Neck grant owned by 
Lord Fairfax, one of the few titled English- 
men to make his home in Virginia. Lord 
Fairfax was Washington's patron, and se- 
lected the youth in 1748 for his first experi- 
ences on the frontier. This was more than 
twenty years after the first movement into 
the Valley. The settlement, especially of 

Honor to George Washington 

the northern part, was fairly rapid, since 
there was at that time no Indian trouble. 
The settlers and the remaining Indians con- 
tinued as quiet neighbors until 175 3; the fact 
that the pioneers were from Pennsylvania is 
said to have been a reason for this — a reflex 
of Pcnn's comparatively enlightened policy. 
Against settlers from eastern Virginia, how- 
ever, the "Long Knife" men, the Indians 
showed animosity. In 175 3 the Indians, 
after a visit by western tribe emissaries, left 
the Valley, which, if the settlers could have 
read the signs, would have been recognized 
as meaning trouble. By 1734 the inhabitants 
were demanding a seat of justice nearer than 
Fredericksburg which was the shire town of 
Spotsylvania County, within the vast bounds 
of which the Valley was included. In that 
year Orange County was formed, but still 
including land on both sides of the Blue 
Ridge, and five justices were named for the 
Valley region. Finally, in 173 8, the region 
west of the Blue Ridge was organized by it- 
self in two counties, Frederick on the north 
and Augusta on the south. 

The upper portion of the Valley was opened 
later than the lower end and, as stated 
above, by Scotch-Irish rather than Germans. 
John Lewis, father of Thomas, one of the 
surveyors of the Fairfax line, was the first of 
the race. He settled near present Staunton, 
probably in 1737. Though Washington's 
relations were less intimate with this section, 
yet as he was commander of the frontier it 
was during the war under his control and 
frequent inspection. But the Valley through- 
out was still the pioneer land when Wash- 
ington first visited it. Settlements "were 
widely separated and large areas of country 
entirely destitute of inhabitants." Game 
abounded; and though there were not many 
Indians living there, it was still a war trail 
for the perpetually contending northern and 
southern tribes. 



Washington records some of the experi- 
ences and impressions of frontier conditions 
that he met in his first survey expedition in 
1748, when for the first time, so to say, he 
saw life in the raw. "Tuesday [March] 15 th 
We . . . return'd to Penningtons we got our 
Supper and was lighted into a Room and I 
not being so good a Woodsman as ye rest of 
my Company striped myself very orderly 
and went in to ye Bed as they called it when 
to my Surprize I found it to be nothing but 
a Little Straw-Matted together without 
Sheets or anything else but only one thread 
Bear blanket with double its Weight of 
Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c I was glad to 
get up (as soon as y. Light was carried from 
us) I put on my Cloths and Lay as my 
Companions. Had we not been very tired 
I am sure we should not have slep'd much 
that night I made a Promise not to Sleep so 
from that time forward chusing rather to 
sleep in y. open Air before a fire as will ap- 
pear hereafter. . . . 

"Wednesday 16//> We . . . TravelPd up to 
Frederick Town [Winchester] where our 
Baggage came to us we cleaned ourselves (to 
get Rid of y. Game we had catched y. Night 
before) and took a Review of y. Town and 
thence return'd to our Lodgings where we 
had a good Dinner prepar'd for us Wine 
and Rum Punch in Plenty and a good Feather 
Bed with clean Sheets which was a very 
agreeable regale . . . 

"Saturday 26 Travelld up ye [Patter- 
son's] Creek to Solomon Hedges Esqr one of 
his Majestys Justices of ye. Peace for ye 
County of Frederick where we camped when 
we came to Super there was neither a Cloth 
upon ye. Table nor a knife to eat with but 
as good luck would have it we had knives of 
[our] own. . . . 

"Monday [April] 4th ... we did two 
Lots and was attended by a great Company 
of People Men and Women and Children that 
attended us through ye. Woods as we went 
showing there Antick tricks I really think 
they seemed to be as Ignorant a Set of 
People as the Indians they would never speak 
English but when spoken to they speak all 
Dutch . . ." 

He wrote, probably a year or so later, 
when again in the Valley surveying: "since 
you receid my Letter in October Last I 
have not sleep'd above three Nights or four 
in a bed but after walking a good deal all 
the Day lay down before the fire upon a 
Little Hay Straw Fodder or bairskin which- 
ever is to be had with Man Wife and 
Children like a Parcel of Dogs or Catts and 
happy's he that gets the Birth nearest the 
fire there's nothing would make it pass of 
tolerably but a good Reward a Dubbleloon is 
my constant gain every Day that the 
Weather will permit my going out and some 
time Six Pistoles ... I have never had my 
cloths of but lay and sleep in them like a 
Negro except the few Nights I have lay'n 
in Frederick Town" 

FRONTIER (1747) 

During these early years of the Valley set- 
tlement, Moravian missionaries made visits 
to the outlying members of their flocks, and 
have left in their diaries a valuable record 
of what they saw and felt in western Mary- 
land, Shenandoah Valley, and on the south 
branch of the Potomac, to which the settle- 
ments had extended, and where Washington 
surveyed in 1748. Schnell records in 1747: 
"July 6th — In the evening we came to the 
Patomik River, being very tired. We stayed 
with an Englishman over night. Our poor 
lodging place reminded us that Jesus had 
also lain in a stable. . . . 

"July 8th. Since we learned that we 
would not find a house today for thirty miles, 
but only mountains and bad roads, we took a 
man with us who conducted us over the 
mountains. It was a way the like of which 
I have not seen in America. In the evening 
we came to an Englishman with whom we 
stayed over night. . . . 

"I visited a place called 'Betessens Creek' 
[Patterson's Creek], where many German's 
live, interspersed among Low Dutch [Hol- 
landers] and English New Lights. The High 
Germans are a poor people, internally as well 
as externally. . . . 

"July 12th, . . . Many complained about 
their forsaken condition, that they had not 
been to the Lord's Supper for four years for 
want of a minister. The people asked us to 
come again if possible. We had much pity 
for them. . . . 

"July 22nd. ... In the evening we came 
to a German. When he heard that we were 
from Bethlehem and I a preacher, he asked us 
for our own sakes to return to Pennsylvania 
at once, as a notice had been posted on the 
courthouse that all preachers should be ar- 
rested who traveled without a passport from 

FRONTIER (1748) 

In 1748 Gottschalk made the journey, 
Washington being then in the vicinity. 

"On March 14-25 [o. s. and N. s.], . . . 
In the evening I came to the last house, that 
of an Indian trader [Polk, on the Maryland 
side of the Potomac], beyond which there 
was no house for forty miles. It was a very 
disorderly house. The man was not at home. 
I asked the Lamb to protect me and it was 

"On March 15-26, I arose early, being 
very glad and thankful to the Lord for 
having delivered me from this house. The 
Saviour gave me grace to speak to several 
people, who had conducted themselves very 
badly the night before. 

"I continued joyfully on my way. Today 
I crossed the high North Mountain, the 
appearance of which everywhere was terrible. 
If one is down in the valley he cannot look 
up to the high, steep mountains without 
shuddering. And if one is up on the top 
of the mountains, the deep valleys, in which 
no bottom but only the tops of the trees are 
seen and the rushing of the water is heard, 
are also awe inspiring. The last and highest 
mountain is called 'High Germany,' and im- 
mediately after it is a deep valley, called 
'Devil's Alley,' because it looks so terrible. 
But the Lamb helped me through safely with 
my horse. . . . 

"On March 16-27, I asked the Lord very 
urgently that, as I was to enter Virginia 
today for the first time, he should show me 
the right persons and places. I had hardly 
entered the house again when Abraham De- 
gart offered to take me to 'Bateson's Creek,' 
where we arrived late, but safely, in the 

"On March 17-28, I went up to the South 
Branch [of the Potomac]. I had to climb 
a terrible mountain, and at the same time it 
rained very hard. I came to an Englishman, 
Daniel Onar, who showed me much love, and 
soon afterwards to a German, named Kassel- 
man, in whose house I felt a peculiar grace. 

Frontier Background of Washington's Career 

The people sac around me and gave me an 
opportunity to speak to them. They would 
have liked to give me a horse to Matthaes 
Jochem, if it had been possible to take it 
across the South Branch. The weather be- 
ing so bad Mr. Kasselman accompanied me 
three miles, he took me across the South 
Branch and assisted me in getting a horse 
from an Englishman, named Collins. Kas- 
selman said to him: 'Mr. Collins, here is a 
friend, who would like to hire one of your 
horses. Let him have one, and if he runs 
away with it, I will pay you for it.' Where- 
upon the Englishman was not only immedi- 
ately willing to give me one of his horses, 
but also asked me to preach in his house to 
the English people living there. I replied 
that I would be willing to speak as well as I 
could, if there were people willing to hear 
of the Saviour, and I appointed a sermon for 
the 18-29th, at four o'clock. Then I rode 
away. During the night it became so dark 
that I could no longer see the way. I went 
astray several times, and finally, late at night, 
eight miles this side of Matthaes Jochem's, 
I came to a German, named Heiter, with 
whom I stayed over night. 


"On April 3-March 23, I came to the real 
German settlement, and among others to a 
man named George Daehlinger, at whose 
house Bro. Schnell lodged and preached. The 
congregation [of the Brethren] is known and 
loved there as little as the Saviour himself. 
I found that the people in that district are 
not pleased with the preaching of the Breth- 
ren, but become angry and bitter about it. 
When they learned afterwards that Bro. 
Schnell was a Herrnhutter, they wanted to 
pick a quarrel with Daehlinger, because he 
did not only not arrest him, but allowed him 
to preach and even helped him along with his 
horses. I felt the bitter, hostile and sarcastic 
spirit of the people in that district very 
much, and as the conditions were the same at 
Cedar Creek and in some respects even worse, 
I did not have the heart to preach to these 
people, but left again on the next day. The 
door at these two places is really closed." 


In 175 3 a more extensive journey was 
undertaken by a party of fifteen from Beth- 
lehem to the proposed Moravian settlement 
at Wachovia (Winston - Salem), North 

"On October 13, . . . When the storm was 
over, we started at twelve o'clock midnight 
and traveled several miles farther to the next 
creek. We passed a little town, called 'Carl 
Isles' [Carlisle, Pa.], consisting of about 60 
houses and inhabited mostly by Irishmen. 

"On Sunday, October 14, about 4 o'clock 
in the morning, we pitched our tent four 
miles this side of [beyond] 'Carl Isles,' in 
order not to be an eyesore to the Irish Presby- 
terians. We lay down for several hours and 

slept well and peacefully. After breakfast 
the brethren were shaved. The rest of the 
time we spent happily in our tent. At noon 
we ate pork and dumplings. . . . Towards 
evening we went three miles farther to the 
widow Tennent's tavern. This night we 
stayed on the other side of the creek. Sev- 
eral people came to us, who lodged in the 
tavern, to see what kind of people we were. 
We inquired of them about the way. They 
were very obliging towards us. . . . 

"On October 19, . . . The brethren se- 
cured bread and hay and brought it to the 
'great road' where the other brethren waited 
with the wagon. . . . We bought several 
bushels of oats, but had to wait several hours 
till it had been threshed. Several Germans 
came to us, of whom we inquired about the 
way. They gave us bad news, that beyond 
'Augusti' Court House the way is so bad 
that we would hardly be able to proceed. . . . 

"On October 24, . . . Three miles farther 
we came to 'Augusti Court House' [Staun- 
ton], a little town of some twenty houses, 
surrounded by mountains on all sides. This 
whole district is settled by Irish and English 
people. Immediately behind 'Augusti Court 
House' the bad road begins. . . . The road 
ran up and down continually, and we had 
either to push the wagon or keep it back with 
ropes which we had fastened to the rear. 
There was no lack of water, for every two 
miles we met creeks. We pitched our tent 
eight miles this side of 'Augusti Courthouse,' 
close to a spring and an old dilapidated 
house. Bro. Loesch went to several planta- 
tions to buy feed for our horses. But the 
people had none themselves. However, they 
were very friendly and regretted that they 
could not help us. 

"On October 2 5, ... In the evening we 
pitched our tent upon a height. We had to 
fetch water from a considerable distance. 
Bro. Gottlob had preceded us half a mile to 
a free negro, who is the only blacksmith in 
this district. He had his horse shod. The 
negro and his wife, who was born in Scot- 
land, were very friendly towards Bro. Gott- 
lob and related to him that not long ago 
they had removed hither from Lancaster 
County. . . . 

"On October 26, . . . Although it is 
very hilly here, yet it is a fruitful county. 
It has a few stones, but consists of the fat- 
test, black soil. It is settled mostlv by 
English and Irish people. Bro. Gottlob and 
Nathanael preceded us several miles and 
stayed, a mile and a half across the North 
Branch of the James River [near present 
Lexington], with Mr. Brickstone, a well-to- 
do man, who removed to this place a few 
years ago . . ." 


This was the condition of the Valley of 
Virginia before the outbreak of the French 
and Indian War. Though still pioneer, it was 
not by that time the extreme western line. 
Mention has been made of the settlements on 
both branches of the upper Potomac. Dr. 

Thomas V/alker, exploring into Kentucky in 
175 under a contract for a settlement, says: 
"16th March. We kept up the Staunton to 
William Englishes. He lives on a small 
Branch, and was not much hurt by the 
Fresh. He has a mill, which is the furthest 
back except one lately built by the Sect of 
People who call themselves of the Brother- 
hood of Euphrates, and are commonly called 
the Duncards, who are the upper Inhabit- 
ants of the New River, which is about 400 
yards wide at this place. They live on the 
west side, and we were obliged to swim our 
horses over. The Duncards are an odd set 
of people, who make it a matter of Religion 
not to Shave their Beards, ly on beds, or eat 
flesh, though at present, in the last, they 
transgress, being constrained to it, they say, 
by the want of a sufficiency of Grain and 
Roots, they have not long been seated here. 
I doubt the plenty and deliciousness of Veni- 
son and Turkeys has contributed not a little 
to this. The unmarried have no Property 
but live on a common Stock. They don't 
baptize either Young or Old, they keep their 
Sabbath on Saturday, and hold that all men 
shall be happy hereafter, but first must pass 
through punishment according to their Sins. 
They are very hospitable." 

This settlement was near the mouth of the 
Little River in present Pulaski County, Va. 
A few days later he helped Stalkaner raise his 
house on the Holston River. This was put 
down in Fry and Jefferson's map of 1751 as 
the most western habitation, and this and 
the Dunkard settlement were on the western 
side of the Alleghenies. There was further 
activity in this region up to 175 5. The in- 
habitants on the branches of the Potomac 
and Patterson's Creek were in present West 
Virginia; and there were attempted settle- 
ments on the westward-flowing Greenbrier 
and Cheat. To the north and south of Vir- 
ginia the frontier line was being pushed for- 
ward also. Washington's interests were con- 
cerned with western Pennsylvania, much of 
which was claimed by Virginia, as well as 
with his native colony. There, however, at 
the outbreak of hostilities, the frontier line 
was still east of the mountains, though there 
were various trading posts, including some of 
the Ohio Company, on the western waters. 
For instance, when Washington reached Ve- 
nango on his journey to the French comman- 
dant, he found the French occupying the 
house from which they had driven the Eng- 
lish trader Frazier. 

INDIAN RAIDS (1755-1758) 

Following Washington's Fort Necessity 
expedition, and especially after Braddock's 
defeat in 1755, the frontier was ablaze be- 
tween Carolina and New York. In the north 
and south, the Iroquois and Cherokees being 
friendly to the British, the forays of the 
French Indians were held in check; but across 
the line throughout its length in Virginia 
and Pennsylvania the hostile tribes made raid 
after raid, destroyed the outlying settlements, 


Honor to George Washington 

and brought terror to those even in the well- 
settled regions. 

Such petitions as the following to the Vir- 
ginia Assembly are illustrative: "April 3, 
175 8 . . . That a Memorial of John Smith, 
late Captain of a Company of Rangers on 
the Frontiers of this Colony, . . . was read, 
setting forth That in June, 1756 the said 
Smith, then in Fort Vauss [Vass] in Au- 
gusta, with a small Party, was attacked by 
the Enemy, which (after having defended it 
till he had but three Men left) he was at 
length obliged to surrender: That the Enemy 
then most inhumanly murdered his eldest 
Son before his Face, and carried him Prisoner 
to the Shawnese Towns and French Forts, 
and from thence to Quebec, where he was 
put on Board a Cartel Ship and carried to 
England. . . . That he has lost three Sons 
and great Part of his Fortune in the Service 
of his Country." 

"March 20, 1761 ... A Petition of 
Mary Ingles setting forth that in the Year 
1756 she was with her Husband in Fort 
Vaux [Vass], in Augusta, when he was killed 
and she carried away into Captivity by the 
Indians, amongst whom she was barbarously 
treated; and on her Return into the Colony 
she found her House and her whole effects 
burned, and was thereby reduced to the ut- 
most Distress, since which she has been sup- 
ported entirely by the charitable Contribu- 
tions of the Welldisposed, and praying Relief 
of the House, was presented to the House 
and read." 


Washington describes rather emotionally 
the state of affairs in a letter to Dinwiddie, 
April 22, 1756: "Your Honor may see to 
what unhappy straits the distressed inhabit- 
ants as well as I, am reduced. I am too little 
acquainted, Sir, with pathetic language, to 
attempt a description of the people's dis- 
tresses, though I have a generous soul, sensi- 
ble of wrongs, and swelling for redress. But 
what can I do? If bleeding, dying! would 
glut their insatiate revenge, I would be a 
willing offering to savage fury, and die by 
inches to save a people. I see their situation, 
know their danger, and participate their suf- 
ferings, without having it in my power to 
give them further relief, than uncertain 
promises. In short, I see inevitable destruction 
in so clear a light, that, unless vigorous 
measures are taken by the Assembly, and 
speedy assistance sent from below, the poor 
inhabitants that are now in forts, must un- 
avoidably fall, while the remainder of the 
country are flying before the barbarous foe. 
In fine, the melancholy situation of the peo- 
ple, the little prospect of assistance, the gross 
and scandalous abuses cast upon the officers 
in general, which is reflecting upon me in 
particular, for suffering misconducts of such 
extraordinary kinds, and the distant pros- 
pects, if any, that I can see, of gaining honor 
and reputation in the service, are motives 
which cause me to lament the hour, that 
gave me a commission, and would induce 

me, at any other time than this of imminent 
danger, to resign without one hesitating 
moment, a command, which I never expect 
to reap either honor or benefit from; but, 
on the contrary, have almost an absolute 
certainty of incurring displeasure below, 
while the murder of poor innocent babes 
and helpless families may be laid to my 
account here! 

"The supplicating tears of the women, 
and moving petitions from the men, melt 
me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly 
declare, if I know my own mind, I could 
offer myself a willing sacrifice to the 
butchering enemy, provided that would 
contribute to the people's ease." 


Reverend James Maury was one of those to 
bring the matter earnestly to the attention 
of the Burgesses. He wrote, February 10, 
1756: "Not to mention the repeated Acts of 
Hostility and Violence, committed on our 
Fellow-subjects, in the remoter Parts of this 
Colony, by those bloody Instruments of 
french Policy, the Indians; nor the great Ex- 
tent of country, on both Sides the Alle- 
ghenies, now almost totally depopulated by 
them; which are Facts long since notorious 
to all: I beg Leave to inform You, that such 
Numbers of People have lately transplanted 
themselves hence into the more southerly 
Governments, as must appear almost incredi- 
ble to any, except such, as have had an Op- 
portunity of knowing it, either from their 
own Observation, or the credible Information 
of others, or both. From the waters of Po- 
tomac, James and Roanoke Rivers on the 
eastern Side of the above-mentioned Ridge of 
Mountains, nay from the same Side of the 
blue Ridge, hundreds of Families have, within 
these few Months past, removed, deserted 
their Habitations, & conveyed themselves & 
their most valuable Movables into other Gov- 
ernments. . . . And they, Sir, notwith- 
standing those Measures, & all others, which 
have yet been pursued with the Views, still 
look upon our Frontiers to be in so insecure 
& defenseless a State, as to justify their 
Apprehensions, that the same bloody Trage- 
dies, which were acted at the Expence of 
their Neighbours last Summer, will, if they 
stay, be reacted the insuing at their own. If 
only fifty Indians, which they believe to be as 
many as were upon our Borders in the South- 
west last Year, of which they, perhaps, are 
the best Judges, made such Havoc & Desola- 
tion; drove off upwards of two Thousand 
Head of Cattle & Horses to support them- 
selves & the Enemy at Duquesne, besides 
what they wantonly destroyed; & if so con- 
temptible a Band depopulated & ravaged so 
large a Tract of Country; they suspect, much 
greater Numbers, animated & tempted by the 
extraordinary Success of those few, will e'er 
long renew the same Hostilities, &, conse- 
quently, much greater and more extensive 
Mischiefs insue. And certain it is, should 
that be attempted, & no effectual Methods 

pursued to defeat the Attempt, many Parts 
of the Colony, now several Miles within their 
Frontiers, will shortly become frontier in 
their Turn. ... It is generally believed by 
the most prudent & discerning in this Part 
of the Country, that, during the present 
Troubles, nothing will put a Stop to this pre- 
vailing Humour of removing southerly, be- 
cause nothing will convince the People they 
are safe, but a Line of Forts, extended quite 
across the Colony, as a Barrier against In- 
cursions of the Barbarians." 


This remedy of a line of forts was adopted 
in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Vir- 
ginia General Assembly, by an act of March, 
1756, ordered a chain of forts from Cacapon 
River in present Hampshire Co., W. Va., to 
the south fork of the Mayo River in present 
Halifax Co., Va. A council of militia offi- 
cers at Augusta on July 27, 1756, which 
Washington did not attend, designated the 
location of the forts, which with four al- 
ready built were to be the guard line. These 
were, however, not adequately manned; and 
they neglected the best means of defense, 
through offense, since, in spite of Washing- 
ton's pleadings, no adequate provision was 
made to employ the services of the friendly 
Indians, who alone could offset the raids. 
These public forts were not the only defen- 
sive points, however. Boughter says that there 
were some seventy-five forts and stockades, 
major and minor, along the Virginia frontier 
from the Forks of the Ohio to Carolina; some 
withstood the Indian attacks, others, like 
Fort Vass mentioned above, succumbed. 
They did not stop the incursions, and by the 
end of 175 8 the frontier had been driven in 
all along the line. The fact that one of the 
most important of the fortifications was at 
Winchester indicates the depth of the terror. 

Washington as commander-in-chief of the 
Virginia forces was in the midst of all the 
trouble; in fact, as the above letter shows, 
felt a heavy responsibility for the conditions, 
though he was for the most part helpless to 
alter them. These years of trial, coming 
when he was still in young manhood, recep- 
tive to external surroundings and influences, 
not only helped to build his character but 
gave him a valuable knowledge of the fron- 
tier state of mind, which was useful later in 
life both in war and in peace. The personal 
phase is treated in other articles in this se- 
ries, especially those on the Indian contacts 
and on his colonial military training. 

Washington was again in the West in 
1770. His last visit was in 1784 when In- 
dian troubles prevented him from going 
down the Ohio. The fourteen years had 
witnessed the Revolution, which in the West 
had been another series of Indian conflicts 
and these, indeed, continued for another ten 
years. His comments at this time on the 
squatters on his Pennsylvania lands have 

Frontier Background of Washington's Career 


been given above; and in his general com- 
ments on the tour, which had this time the 
development of trans-alleghenian transporta- 
tion as one of the motives, he wrote, October 
4, 1784: "And tho' I was disappointed in 
one of the objects which induced me to 
undertake this journey namely to examine 
into the situation quality and advantages of 
the Land which I hold upon the Ohio and 
Great Kanhawa — and to take measures for 
rescuing them from the hands of Land Job- 
bers and Speculators — who I had been in- 
formed regardless of my legal and equitable 

rights, patents, &ca.; had enclosed them 
within other Surveys and were offering them 
for Sale at Philadelphia and in Europe. — I say 
notwithstanding this disappointment I am 
well pleased with my journey, as it has been 
the means of my obtaining a knowledge of 
facts — coming at the temper and disposition 
of the Western Inhabitants — and making re- 
flections thereon, which, otherwise, must 
have been as wild, incohert., or perhaps as 
foreign from the truth, as the inconsistency 
of the reports which I had received even 

from those to whom most credit seemed due, 
generally were." 

This was prophetic of the need of just 
such knowledge in the years to come when 
as head of the new nation one of the prob- 
lems he had to meet was the character and 
points of view of these same frontiersmen, in 
the consideration of Indian affairs, foreign 
affairs, westward extension, and that devel- 
oping democracy so closely associated with 
them and the children who inherited their 

Part II 

Washington's Contact with the Indians 


Washington's connection with Indians 
began in 1748 on his first survey expedition 
beyond the Blue Ridge. He records in his 
diary that on March 23 at Cresap's (present 
Oldtown on the upper Potomac) "we were 
agreeably surpris'd at y. sight of thirty odd 
Indians coming from War with only one 
Scalp We had some Liquor with us of 
which we gave them Part it elevating there 
Spirits put them in y. Humour of Dauncing 
of whom we had a War Daunce." He de- 
scribes "there manner of Dauncing ... in 
a most comical Manner." This was merely 
incidental and Indians were not at that time 
numerous so far eastward. 

FRENCH (1753) 

In November, 1753, he was sent by Gover- 
nor Dinwiddie to deliver to the French com- 
mandant on the Ohio a letter of protest and 
warning for encroaching on territory which 
Virginia claimed. This was land which, 
most emphatically, the Indians also claimed, 
and from which the English rather than the 
French were likely to push them back; for 
the English settled while the French did 
little more than trade. It was part of Wash- 
ington's task to gain their confidence, to 
enhance their restlessness over the French 
intrusion, to make them forgetful of the 
past harrying by the English, and to pre- 
vent too much inquisitiveness concerning 
the colonial intentions. 

He with Gist, a sturdy frontiersman who 
was his guide, met the Indians at Logstown, 
a trading post on or near the Ohio at Big 
Beaver Creek — chiefs of the Delawares, 
Shawnees, Senecas, and others, including the 
Half-King, the most important Indian of 
the region and just then unfriendly to the 
French — , had speech with them and gave 
wampum; and a party of them, including 
Half-King, conducted him first to the 
Indian town of Venango (at present Frank- 
lin, Pa.) and then to Fort Le Boeuf (near 

present Waterford), where he delivered his 
letters on December 12 and received a reply. 
The French attempted to separate the In- 
dians from the Virginians; but the party 
held together until Venango was reached on 
the return trip on December 22. 

In his speech to the Indians at Logstown 
he said: " 'Brothers ... I am sent, with 
all possible Dispatch, to visit, and deliver a 
Letter to the French Commandant, of very 
great Importance to your Brothers, the 
English; and I dare say, to you . . . because 
His Honour our Governor treats you as good 
Friends and Allies; and holds you in great 
Esteem.' . . . He [Half-King] returned 
. . . and came with . . . other Sachems to 
my Tent, and begged ... to know on 
what Business we were going to the French} 
this was a Question I all along expected, 
and has provided as satisfactory Answers to, 
as I could; which allayed their Curiosity a 

At Venango: "We found the French 
Colours hoisted at a House from which they 
had driven Mr. John Frazier, an English 
subject. . . . Capt. Joncaire sent for the 
Half-King, as he had just heard that he 
came with me: He affected to be much con- 
cerned that I did not make free to bring 
them in before. I excused it in the best 
Manner I was capable, . . . But another 
Motive prevented me ... I knew he was 
Interpreter, and a Person of great great In- 
fluence among the Indians, and had lately 
used all possible Means to draw them over 
to their Interest; therefore I was desirous of 
giving no Opportunity that could be 
avoided. When they came in, there was 
great Pleasure expressed at seeing them. 
He . . . applied Liquor so fast, that they 
were soon rendered incapable of the Business 
they came about [to return the French 
speech belt], notwithstanding the Caution 
which was given. . . . The Half -King came 
to my Tent, quite sober, ... I fain would 
have prevented him speaking any Thing till 

he came to the Commandant [at Fort Le 
Boeuf], but could not prevail. . . . The 
King . . . offered the French Speech-Belt 
. . . which Monsieur Joncaire refused to re- 
ceive; but desired him to carry it to the Fort 
to the Commander. . . . We found it ex- 
tremely difficult to get the Indians off To- 
day, as every Stratagem had been used to 
prevent their going-up with me." 

At Fort Le Boeuf: "As I found many 
Plots concerted to retard the Indians Busi- 
ness, and prevent their returning with me; 
I endeavor'd all that lay in my Power to 
frustrate their Schemes, and to hurry them 
on to execute their intended Design. They 
accordingly pressed for Admittance this 
Evening, which at length was granted them 
privately, ... The Half-King told me, that 
he offer'd the Wampum to the Commander 
[Le Gardeur de St. Pierre], who evaded tak- 
ing it, and made many fair Promises of Love 
and Friendship; . . . The Commandant or- 
dered a plentiful Store of Liquor, Provision, 
&c, to be put on Board our Canoe; and ap- 
peared to be extremely complaisant, though 
he was exerting every Artifice which he 
could invent to set our own Indians at Vari- 
ance with us, to prevent their going 'till 
after our Departure. Presents, Rewards, and 
every Thing which could be suggested by 
him or his Officers. — I can't say that ever in 
my Life I suffered so much Anxiety . . . 
But I urged and insisted with the King so 
closely upon his Word, that he . . . set off 
with us as he had engaged." When he and 
Gist had finally reached Frazier 's post on the 
Monongahela after their perilous foot journey 
from Venango, he concluded the diary with 
the dry remark that "I went-up about three 
Miles ... to visit Queen Aliquippa [Dela- 
ware], who had expressed great Concern that 
we passed her in going to the Fort. I made 
her a Present of a Matchcoat and a Bottle of 
Rum; which latter was thought much the 
best Present of the Two." 


Honor to George Washington 



7 1 

/ TS V 




">i'A^-. .^, 


1 *«*! •_ 


The Indian Frontier in Washington's Youth 

From Thomas Hutchins, Map of the 'Western Parts, 1778 

Frontier Background of Washington's Career 



In April, 1754, Washington's command, 
marching to complete the tort at the Forks 
of the Ohio, was met at Cresap's by the news 
that the French had driven the English away. 
The works in French hands became Fort 
Duquesne. Here also a speech and belt from 
Half-King were delivered and a council of 
war at Fort Cumberland decided to continue 
the advance to the Monongahela to assist 
the Indians, "whose interest is as dear to us 
as our lives." During the next months, and 
until Washington surrendered to the French 
at Fort Necessity, contact with the Indians 
was continuous, and all possible efforts were 
made to win their alliance, or neutrality at 
least, in the forthcoming struggle with the 
French. Results were not good, however, 
and the Indians were critical of Washing- 
ton's conduct of affairs. 

Washington's journal of this expedition 
was captured by the French, and is known 
only through a French translation of it. 
The original, if it still exists in the French 
archives, has not been unearthed. Accord- 
ing to this document he went forward from 
Fort Necessity and held a council with the 
Indians June 18-21, Half -King with others 
of the Six Nations, Shawnees, and Delawares, 
who indicated their unfavorable intentions. 
"We . . . have been informed that you 
threaten to destroy entirely all your 
brethren the Indians, who will not join you 
on the road; wherefore we who keep in 
our own towns, expect every day to be cut 
to pieces by you. We should be glad to know 
from your own mouth whether there be any 
truth in that information, . . . We know 
the French will ask us on our return, of 
what number our brethren are whom we 
went to see? Therefore we desire vou, by 
this belt, to let us know it, as also the 
number of those whom vou expect and at 
what time you expect them, and when you 
intend to attack the French, that we may 
give notice thereof to our town, and know 
also, what we are to tell the French." 

INDIANS (1754) 

Washington replied: "The English do not 
intend to hurt you, or any of your allies; 
. . . they . . . sent an army to maintain 
your rights; to put you again in possession 
of your lands, and to take care of your 
wives and children, to dispossess the French, 
to maintain your rights and to secure the 
whole country for you; for these very ends 
are the English arms now employed: it is 
for the safety of your wives and your chil- 
dren that we are fighting; and as this is 
the only motive of our conduct we cannot 
reasonably doubt of being joined by the 
rest of your forces to oppose the common 
enemv. Those who will not join us shall 
be answerable for whatever may be the con- 
sequence, we onlv desire your brethren to 
choose the side which seems most acceptable 
to them. ... as we have drawn the sword 
in vour cause and in vour defence, hesitate 

no longer, delay not a moment, but put all 
your wives and children under our protec- 
tion, and they shall find plenty of provisions; 
in the meanwhile set your young men and 
your warriors to sharpening their hatchets, 
to join and unite with us vigorously in our 
battles. The present, my Brethren, which 
I offer you is not so considerable as I could 
wish, but I expect in a short time, a quantity 
of goods, . . ." This speech was to the Six 
Nations; to the Delawares who were be- 
lieved to have gone over to the French 
already a similar answer was made. "After 
this the Council broke up and those treacher- 
ous devils [the Delawares], who had been 
sent by the French to act as spies, returned, 
though not without some stories prepared 
to amuse the French, which may be of 
service to make our own designs succeed." 
There is further evidence, in a letter to 
Dinwiddie on June 12, that he was fast 
learning his Indian lore and other diplomacy: 
"Queen Aliquippa desired that her son, who 
is really a great warrior, might be taken 
into council, as he was declining and unfit 
for business, and that he should have an 
English name given him. I therefore called 
the Indians together by the advice of the 
Half-King, presented one of the medals, and 
desired him to wear it in remembrance of 
his great father, the King of England, and 
called him the name of Colonel Fairfax, 
which he was told signified the first of the 
council. This gave him great pleasure. 1 
was also informed, that an English name 
would please the Half-King, which made me 
presume to give him that of your Honour, 
and called him Dinwiddie; interpreted in 
their language, the head of all." Half-King, 
who remained loyal, died before the end of 
the year. 


Washington held no official position in 
the Braddock campaign, he was merely a 
volunteer aide to the general; but his 
knowledge of the region and his earlier ac- 
quaintance with the Indians and their 
methods of warfare and thought, made his 
advice of great value even though Brad- 
dock would not or could not always profit 
by it. The French had won ascendancy over 
the Indians of the region and Braddock's 
force was without natives except a few as 
guides, the others who joined from time to 
time meeting with such a reception that 
they speedily departed; so that the defeat 
was due not to a surprise but to the fact 
that a force using Indian tactics in the 
forest defeated an army made up largely of 
British regulars unable or at least unwilling 
to adopt the only warfare possible in the 
region. No diary was kept during the ex- 
pedition, at least none is now known to 
exist; and there is nothing in the published 
letters on Indian connections with the 

ON THE FRONTIER (175 5-175 8) 

During the next three years Washington's 
task as commander in chief of the Virginia 
forces was to guard the frontier from In- 
dian raids, with headquarters at Fort Cum- 
berland and Winchester, and inspections of 
the inadequate line of "little paultry forts" 
beyond. The raids continued, however, and 
the pioneers were pushed back so that the 
frontier line when the French and Indian 
War ended was far within its position before 
that conflict. There were some Indians with 
the Forbes expedition against Fort Duquesne 
in 175 8, Washington, who commanded the 
Virginia force of the army, having stressed 
the importance of it; but, except for the 
annihilation of Grant's detachment in a rash 
advance, there was no fighting. 

No diaries are available for this period 
Many letters were written on his task, the 
importance of which he fully realized, writ- 
ing on August 14, 175 5, "that it requires 
more experience than I am master of, to 
conduct an affair of the importance that thn 
is now arisen to;" and again, April 7, 1756: 
"Our detachments . . . have sought them 
[Indian raiders] diligently, but the cunning 
and vigilance of Indians in the woods are no 
more to be conceived, than they are to be 
equalled by our people. Indians are only 
match for Indians; and without these, we 
shall ever fight upon unequal terms." On 
unequal terms the fight continued; the only 
available savages were the Cherokees and 
other southern tribes, and they did not ac- 
cept to any extent the offers made to them, 
though Washington continued to "advise, 
as I often have done, that there should be 
neither trouble nor expense omitted to bring 
the few, who are still inclined, into our serv- 
ice, and that, too, with the greatest care and 
expedition. A small number, just to point 
out the wiles and tracks of the enemy, is 
better than none." The little reliance that 
could be put in the colonial militia to check 
the flight of "a people overcome with fear 
and consternation at the inhuman murders 
of these barbarous savages" is made evident 
by his letters and memoranda. 


Later in the year 1756, when Cherokees 
and Catawbas were expected under a 
promise to Virginia commissioners, he ex- 
pressed his pleasure: "They will be of par- 
ticular service — more than twice their num- 
ber of white men. When they arrive, which 
I pray may be soon, we may deal with the 
French in their own way; and, by visiting 
their country, will keep their Indians at 
home. . . . Those Indians who are now 
coming should be shewed all possible respect, 
and the greatest care taken of them, as upon 
them much depends. 'Tis a critical time, 
thev are very humoursome, and their assist- 
ance very necessary! One false step micht 
not only lose us that, but even turn them 
aeainst us. All kinds of necessary goods, 
&c, should be got for them." But Major 


Honor to George Washington 

Lewis brought only seven Cherokee men and 
three squaws when some four hundred were 
expected. When eleven Catawbas appeared: 
"we undoubtedly might have had more of 
them, had the proper means been used to 
send trusty guides to invite and conduct 
them to us; but this is neglected . . . In- 
dian goods are much wanted." "When I 
spoke about scalps, I had the Indians chiefly, 
indeed solely, in my view, knowing their 
jealous, suspicious natures are apt to enter- 
tain doubts at the least delay and a suspen- 
sion of rewards causes a dissatisfaction and 
murmuring among them, which might be 
productive of bad events at this critical 

Though there were other such drib- 
blings of Indian allies, evidently more than 
one false step was taken and savage doubts 
entertained; for, he wrote on May 30, 1757: 
"We receive fresh proofs every day of the 
bad direction of our Indian affairs. It is 
not easy to tell what expenses have arisen 
on account of these Indians, how dissatisfied 
they are, and how gloomy the prospect of 
pleasing them appears, while we pursue our 
present system of management." He de- 
scribed the French system of single control; 
"whereas, with us it is everybody's business, 
and no one's, to supply. Every person at- 
tempts to please, and few succeed in it, 
because one promises (his, and another that; 
and few can perform any thing, but are 
obliged to shuffle and put them off, to get 
rid of their importunities. Hence they ac- 
cuse us of perfidy and deceit!" 

The unsatisfactory conditions not only 
continued but augmented, so that after 
the Forbes expedition the Cherokees became 
actively hostile. They not only raided the 
frontier themselves but captured Fort 
Londoun on the Little Tennessee River in 
their territory; although Washington wrote 
at the end of 1757 that "the sincere dispo- 
sition the Cherokees have betrayed to espouse 
our cause heartily has been demonstrated 
beyond the most distant doubt; and, if 
rewarded in the manner in which that 
laudable and meritorious disposition entitles 
them to, would, in all human probability, 
soon effect a favorable change in the pres- 
ent (apparently) desperate situation of this 
poor unhappy part of his Majesty's do- 


Washington's chief concern in 1758 was 
with the Forbes expedition. Cherokees for 
this began to assemble at Winchester early 
in the year. There were five hundred of 
them there by April, and to retain them a 
speedy campaign was essential. "Without 
this, I fear the Indians will with difficulty 
be restrained from returning to their nation 
before we assemble, and, in that event, no 
words can tell how much they will be 
missed. . . . The Indians are mercenary: 
every service of theirs must be purchased: 
and they are easy offended, being thoroughly 
sensible of their own importance." "They 

say that they did not leave home with an 
intention of staying any considerable time, 
that they can see no appearance of our being 
able to take the field . . . they would go 
home and be back again by the time they 
are wanted," he added in May. He wrote 
Forbes on June 19 that "all except those 
who came last . . . [have returned] home. 
. . . Now ... we shall be left to perform 
without them a march of more than 100 
miles from an advanced Post ... a great 
part of which will be over mountains and 
Rocks, and thro' such Defiles, as will en- 
able the Enemy, with the assistance of their 
Indians, and Irregulars, and their superior 
knowledge of the country, to render ex- 
tremely arduous, unsafe, and at best, tedious, 
our intended Expedition; unless we also can 
be assisted by a Body of Indians; who I con- 
ceive to be the best if not the only Troops 
fit to cope with Indians in such grounds. 
. . . The Southern Indians, of late, seem to 
be wavering; and have, on several occasions, 
discovered an inclination to break with us. 
I think it will admit of no doubt, that, 
if we should be unsuccessful in this Quarter, 
which Heaven avert! the united force of 
several powerful nations of them might be 
employed against us; and that such an acqui- 
sition to the Enemy would enable them to 
desolate our Southern Colonies, and make 
themselves masters of that part of the conti- 
nent, is not to be questioned. Wherefore, 
that nothing should be omitted that might 
contribute to prevent so dreadful a calamity, 
I suggest the idea of sending a proper per- 
son immediately to the Cherokee nation; who 
may not only heal the differences which now 
subsist, but get a Body of them to join the 
army on their march, and no person, surely, 
who has the interest of our important cause 
at heart wou'd hesitate a moment to engage 
in such a Service, on the event of which our 
all, in a manner, depends." But it was the 
desertion of the Indian allies of the French, 
and not the presence of those of the English, 
that settled the campaign. 



Washington's next journey to the frontier 
was in October and November, 1770, when 
he went to inspect and locate bounty lands 
beyond the Alleghenies for himself and fel- 
low officers of the Virginia regiment. His 
trip took him to Pittsburgh, then down the 
Ohio with Capt. William Crawford to the 
Kanawha, and up the lower reaches of that 
branch. During seven years of peace the 
frontier line had again advanced, in disre- 
gard of the Proclamation of 1763; and the 
Indians had also by treaties, which they 
probably did not understand, relinquished 
land on the southern side of the Ohio as far 
as the month of the Kanawha. Conoto- 
carious, which was his Indian name, inherited 
from his great-grandfather, with George 
Croghan the Indian agent, received a speech 
and string of wampum from chiefs near 
Pittsburgh, had Indians to accompany him 

down the river, encamped at Mingo Town, 
below present Steubenville, underwent fur- 
ther down a "tedious ceremony" with an- 
other party under the leadership of a com- 
panion of the trip in 175 3, and on his return 
left the river at Mingo Town and returned 
to Pittsburgh by land. He recorded his 
impressions of the Indians on the Ohio, who 
viewed "the Settlement of the People upon 
this River with an uneasy and jealous Eye, 
and do not scruple to say that they must 
be compensated for their Right if the People 
settle thereon, notwithstanding the Cession 
of the Six Nation's thereto." This was the 
treaty for Fort Stanwix in 1768; the Chero- 
kees had also made cessions south of the 
Ohio; but the Shawnees, Delawares, and 
Mingoes had not participated. As, he con- 
tinued, the settlers were constantly advanc- 
ing, "how difficult it may be to contend with 
these People afterwards is easy to be judgd 
of from every day's experience of Lands 
actually settled, supposing these to be made; 
than which nothing is more probable if the 
Indians permit them, from the disposition of 
the People at present." Lord Dunmore's 
War in 1774, in which Washington had no 
share, was probably here anticipated. 

ARY ARMY (1775-1783) 

During the Revolution, Indian policy was 
important; first of all was the question 
whether the natives should be employed as 
auxiliaries. Both sides claimed to depreci- 
ate their enlistment; in the end both sides 
did use them. They participated both as 
British and American allies in the Burgoyne 
campaign, but their conduct under the 
British, especially in the murder of Jane 
McCrea, as it aroused the resentment of the 
people, was of far more influence on the 
outcome than the few hundred Oneidas 
under Gates. Washington, with the knowl- 
edge gained in early frontier warfare, had 
no doubt as to the proper policy. He wrote 
Schuyler, April 19, 1776: "You, who know 
the temper and disposition of the savages, 
will, I doubt not, think with me, that it 
will be impossible to keep them in a state of 
neutrality. I have urged upon Congress the 
necessity of engaging them on our side, to 
prevent their taking an active part against 
us, which would be a most fatal stroke under 
our present circumstances." His letter to 
the President of Congress of the same date 
repeats this advice; and on May 25, 1776, 
Congress declared it highly expedient to en- 
gage the Indians. In 1778 the Congressional 
Committee of Conference with Washington 
having so advised, the Board of War wrote 
that, "seeing these Gentlemen have fully 
discussed the matter with General Washing- 
ton, and upon the maturest deliberation 
recommend it," some four hundred Indians 
might be employed; Congress so voted on 
March 4. Washington on March 13 wrote: 
"Divesting them of the savage customs 
exercised in their wars against each other, I 
think they may be made of excellent use as 

Frontier Background of Washington's Career 


scouts and light troops, mixed with our own 

Whatever may have been done under 
these resolves, the Indians rendered no es- 
sential aid. Washington's policy of use 
was, after all, a limited one. While writing 
Schuyler, May 15, 1778, his regrets that the 
disposition of the Indians was "not gen- 
erally favorable," he also regretted the 
arrival at Valley Forge of a party of In- 
dians. "All appearances at this time are 
opposed to the supposition of any speedy 
offensive movement . . . there will be very 
little of that kind of service in which the 
Indians are capable of being useful. ... I 
leave it to your judgment to assign such 
reasons as you shall deem best calculated for 
the change and satisfy them. I should think 
however, a good way might be, to inform 
them, with proper comments, of the 
[French] Treaties . . . and that in conse- 
quence of them, affairs have taken such a 
turn, as to make it unnecessary to give them 
the trouble, at this time of coming to our 

The Indians all along the frontier, under 
the influence of the British agents and 
loyalist commanders, as well as natural de- 
sire, raided throughout the war; such events 
as the Wyoming massacre in 1778, and the 
Mohawk Valley incursions, left Washington 
"thoroughly impressed with the necessity of 
offensive operations against Indians, in every 
kind of rupture with them." An expedition 
to break the power of the hostile Iroquois 
was carefully planned and carried out; Sulli- 
van, who was given the command in 1779 
after Gates declined it, was instructed by 
Washington that "the immediate objects are 
the total destruction and devastation of their 
settlements, and the capture of as many 
prisoners of every age and sex as possible. 
. . . that the country may not be merely 
overrun, but destroyed. . . . When we have 
effectually chastised them, we may then 
listen to peace, and endeavor to draw fur- 
ther advantages from their fears." With 
the campaign against the Cherokees and 
Clark's operations in the Northwest, Wash- 
ington had no direct connection. 


Washington made his last journey to the 
West in September of this year, intending 
to descend the Ohio for another inspection 
of the Kanawha lands. He gave it up be- 

cause of the hostility of the Indians; and 
they were still intermittently on the war- 
path when he became President. '[Septem- 
ber] 14th. . . . Colo Willm. Butler and the 
officer Commanding the Garrison at Fort 
Pitt, a Capt. Lucket came here — as they 
confirmed the reports of the discontented 
temper of the Indians and the Mischiefs done 
by some parties of them — and the former 
advised me not to prosecute my intended 
trip to the Great Kanahawa, I resolved to 
decline it." 

The Federal Constitution gave the na- 
tional government power over Indian affairs, 
and it was one of the duties of Washington's 
administration to organize this control. Be- 
sides the western Indians, the relations with 
what was left of the Iroquois and with the 
southern tribes, especially the Cherokees and 
Creeks, had to be settled. Delegates from 
these nations were induced to come to New 
York and Philadelphia. Brant, Cornplanter, 
and Red Jacket with the Iroquois and Mc- 
Gillivray with the Creeks were received by 
Washington, feted, including entertainment 
by the Tammany Society, treaties made with 
them there and elsewhere, and peace main- 
tained during Washington's rule. The west- 
ern problem was difficult. Expeditions under 
Harmar and St. Clair were defeated, and 
Washington, irritated especially by what he 
considered St. Clair's neglect of due precau- 
tions, after due consideration of available 
men appointed Wayne to lead a new expedi- 
tion. This Revolutionary veteran, in spite 
of being known as "Mad Anthony," made 
his preparations and advance with thorough- 
ness and care and by his complete defeat of 
the Indians at the battle of Fallen Timbers 
on August 20, 1794, opened the West to 
peaceful penetration for more than a decade. 
President Washington's policy toward the 
Indians, as stated in his messages, was that 
"aggressors should be made sensible that the 
Government of the Union is not less capable 
of punishing their crimes than it is disposed 
to respect their rights and reward their at- 
tachments;" that "they should experience 
the benefits of an impartial dispensation of 
justice;" that "the mode of alienating their 
lands, the main source of discontent and 
war, should be so defined and regulated as 
to obviate imposition and as far as may be 
practical controversy concerning the reality 

and extent of the alienations which are 
made;" that "commerce with them should 
be promoted under regulations tending to 
secure an equitable deportment toward them, 
and that such rational experiments should be 
made for imparting to them the blessings of 
civilization as may from time to time suit 
their conditions;" that "the Executive of 
the United States should be enabled to em- 
ploy the means to which the Indians have 
been long accustomed for uniting their im- 
mediate interests with the preservation of 
peace;" that "efficacious provisions should be 
made for inflicting adequate penalties upon 
all those who, by violating their rights, shall 
infringe the treaties and endanger the peace 
of the Union;" and that "a system corre- 
sponding with the mild principles of religion 
and philanthropy toward an unenlightened 
race of men, whose happiness materially de- 
pends on the conduct of the United States, 
would be as honorable to the national char- 
acter as conformable to the dictates of sound 


To Edmund Pendleton he wrote, January 
22, 1795: "They [the Indians], poor 
wretches, have no press through which their 
grievances are related; and it is well known, 
that, when one side only of a story is heard 
and often repeated, the human mind becomes 
impressed with it insensibly. The annual 
presents, however, to which you allude, are 
not given so much with a view to purchase 
peace, as by way of contribution for injuries 
not otherwise to be redressed. These people 
are very much irritated by the continual 
pressure of land speculators and settlers on 
one hand, and by the impositions of unau- 
thorized and unprincipled traders, who rob 
them, in a manner, of their hunting, on the 
other. Nothing but the strong arm of the 
Union, or, in other words, adequate laws 
can correct these abuses. But here jealousies 
and prejudices, (from which I apprehend 
more fatal consequences to this government, 
than from any other source,) aided by local 
situations, and perhaps by interested con- 
siderations, always oppose themselves to effi- 
cient measures." 

Thus did he sum up the impression ac- 
quired during an experience of almost half 
a century with the Indians as friends and as 

Burnaby, Andrew — Travels through the 
Middle Settlements . . . 1759 and 1760. 
London, T. Payne, 1775. (Other eds.) 

Dinwiddie, Robert — Official Records. 2 
vols. Richmond, Va. Hist. Soc, 1883- 
84. (Collections of Va. Hist. Soc, n. s., 
Vols. III-IV.) 

Doddridge, Joseph — Notes, on the Settle- 

ment and Indian Wars, of the Western 
Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania. 
Wellsburgh, Va., for the Author, 1824. 
(Various later eds.) 

Fitzpatrick, John C. — George Washing- 
ton, Colonial Traveller, 1732-1775. — 
Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1927. 

Ford, Worthington Chauncey — George 

Washington. 2 vols. New York, Scrib- 
ner, 1900. (Especially Vol. I, chs. iii-vi, 

Gabriel, Ralph Henry — Lure of the 
Frontier (Pageant of America, Vol. II). 
New Haven, Yale University Press, 1929. 

Hulbert, Archer Butler — Colonel Wash- 
ington. Marietta, Ohio, 1902. 


Honor to George Washington 

Jones, David — Journal of Two Visits made 
to . . . Indians on the . . . Ohio . . ■ 
1772 and 1775. Burlington, N. J., 1774; 
reprint, New York, J. Sabin, 1865. 

Kemper, Charles E. — "Early Westward 
Movement of Virginia"; in Virginia Maga- 
zine of History and Biography, Vols. XII- 
XIII, 1905-6. 

Kercheval, Samuel — History of the Val- 
ley of Virginia. 4th ed., rev., Strasburg, 
Va., Shenandoah Publishing House, 1925. 
(1st ed., 1833.) 

Koontz, Louis Knott — "Washington on 
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History and Biography, Vol. XXXVI, p. 
307, 192 8. 

Macleod, William Christie — American 
Indian Frontier. New York, Knopf, 1928. 

McClure, David — Diary, 1748-1820. New 
York, 1899. 

"Moravian Diaries of Travels through Vir- 

ginia"; in Virginia Magazine of History 
and Biography, Vols. XI-XII, 1903-5. 

Richardson, James, ed. — Compilation of 
the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 
Vol. I. Washington, Govt. Printing Of- 
fice, 1896. (Other eds.) 

Roosevelt, Theodore — Winning of the 
West. Vol. I. New York, Putnam, 18 89. 
(Later eds.) 

Rush, Benjamin — "Account of the Man- 
ners of the German Inhabitants of Penn- 
sylvania"; in Essays, Philadelphia, Brad- 
ford, 1798. (Reprint, Pennsylvania- 
German Society, Proceedings, Vol. XIX, 

Spotswood, Alexander — Official Letters. 
2 vols. Richmond, Va. Hist. Soc, 1882- 
8 5. (Collections of Va. Hist. Soc, N. s., 
Vols. I-II.) 

Turner, Frederick Jackson — Frontier in 
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1920. (Especially the first essay, "Sig- 
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Washington, Georgf. — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C Fitzpatrick. 4 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 
(Contains the journals of 1753, 1754, 
1770, 1784.) 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 18 89-93. 

Wayland, John Walter — German Ele- 
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Vol. XXI, p. 1, 1912. 


Washington as a Surveyor 

From an engraving by G. R. Hall, after a drawing by F. O. C. Darley 

Pamphlet Number Two 

Washington the Mae of Miod 

By Albert Bmshmell 
Part I 
Practical Education 

George Washington 
From the Gilbert Stuart painting known as the "Vaughan" -portrait. 


an educator: all the world knows 
that he was a soldier and a states- 
man, and the Father of his Coun- 
try — "first in war, first in peace, and first 
in the hearts of his countrymen." So much 
has been said about Washington as a soldier 
and statesman that it is hard to realize him 
as a live human being, associating with other 
gentlemen and ladies of his own period; as 
occupying his mind with problems of his 
plantation and neighborhood. 

It is not an overstatement to say that 
Washington was the best-educated man in 
the United States of his day. One proof 
of his intellectual power is the small extent 
to which he became educated through books 
and letters, for he had very little schooling. 
When he had barely finished his sixteenth 
year he started out to make his own living; 
and from that day on he was busy with other 
things than going to school, reciting, listen- 
ing to teachers, reading books, and passing 

Washington was the best-educated man 
of his time because he wns educated in tmnv 

different ways. However slight his book 
learning, he did acquire that magnificent 
handwriting which is so characteristic of 
the man of affairs and intelligence. Every- 
body knows that Washington had a library — 
possibly a larger library than was possessed 
by any other gentleman in Virginia. He 
read books on military tactics; he read books 
on agriculture; he also had books of history 
and general literature. 

In another form of education Washington 
throughout his life was self-educated by his 
habit of recording things that went on about 
him and of writing copious letters. Perhaps 
as many as 20,000 letters are in existence 
which contain his sentiments, most of them 
signed with his magnificent hand. In addi- 
tion, during many years of his life Wash- 
ington regularly kept diaries, which are else- 
where described. 

Some modern so-called biographers at- 
tempt to make out that Washington was a 
slow young man, rather hardheaded, but 
gloomy, disappointed, discouraged, and 
unhappy because he was not getting on well. 
On the contrary, he was the liveliest, hand- 
somest, most successful young man in Vir- 
ginia. It was no accident that made him 
first General of the Continental Army and 
then President of the United States. The 
trouble with this so-called modern school of 
Washington biography is that those who 
write it suppose that Washington was the 
kind of man that they would have been if 
they had been Washington. 

George Washington was from youth ac- 
customed to associate with people of educa- 
tion and refinement. His own house was a 
model of hospitality and high living and 
lofty thinking. He was one of the busiest 
men that ever lived, and kept educating him- 
self by the tasks that he set for himself. 
His field surveys he continued from time to 
time to within a few hours of his death. His 
travels, in which he learned so much about 
his countrymen and about the times, con- 
tinued until the end of his days. No man 
in the United States had been in so many 
places at the time of his death as George 
Washington; had met so many people; had 
had such experiences of conversation and 
friendship. No American met in his own 
country so many cultivated foreigners. 
That is, there was no other American who 



Honor to George Washington 

had such an opportunity of education by 
actual contact with the things and people 
that count. 

George Washington was greatly interested 
in education, as is shown by the way in 
which he spent money and time and thought 
upon the education of the young people for 
whom he was responsible. Among them, of 
course, were the Custises, the children and 
grandchildren of Martha Washington. To 
them Washington was not simply a step- 
father — they were as his own children; 
throughout his life he was interested in their 
welfare and he left property to them as 
though they had been his own. He sent 
George Washington Parke Custis to Prince- 
ton College. Trouble arose, but young 
Custis was still of the opinion that he was 
a student at Princeton. The college authori- 
ties had a very different opinion; they said 
that whatever he might have been previ- 
ously, he was no longer a student. That led 
Washington to write a letter, in which he 
reflected upon the possible opportunities for 
young Custis. First of all, he said the 
natural place would be the College in New 
England (Harvard). Yale he excluded from 
consideration, probably because it was too 

He not only sent his kindred — he sent 
several sons of others, paid their expenses, 
and was glad to do it because he so believed 
in education. In a statement by Washington 
of what he thought constituted a good book- 
learning, he includes a knowledge of French, 
in which he himself was deficient. Wash- 
ington thought about education; he advised 
education; he practiced education. 


Outside of books and colleges Washington 
had enjoyed the education of a man intensely 
busy with things of great importance. He 
was the first professional engineer in the 
colonies and the United States. He began 
his training at sixteen as a surveyor; he 
continued it as a road engineer, for he took 
part in the making of Braddock's Road, 
which was the first highway west of the 
headwaters of the Potomac River. He sug- 
gested routes beyond, leading across the 
mountains. The Baltimore and Ohio Rail- 
road later made use of the route. 

Besides his interest as a builder of roads 
and discoverer of routes, he was interested 
in steam navigation, and probably was pres- 
ent at the first trial of Rumsey's power boat. 
He examined Fitch's model of a steamboat. 
He was a leader in internal improvements, 
especially of the Potomac River. He drained 
part of the Dismal Swamp. He was among 
the first to suggest the possibility of a canal 
along the lines of the present Erie Canal 
from the upper waters of the Hudson to the 
Great Lakes; and he added the suggestion, 
revived by President Hoover, that there 
should also be a system of canals connecting 
the Great Lakes with the Ohio River and 
its tributaries. 


Part of his works, leaving out the Diaries 
and the General Orders, have been published 
in an edition of fourteen volumes. The 
United States George Washington Bicenten- 
nial Commission is issuing a complete series 
of George Washington's Writings in twenty- 
five volumes, which will not include the 

Those diaries are a special mark of Wash- 
ington's education because, although he did 
not record his feelings and expectations and 
views, he did tell from day to day where 
he was, the people with whom he associated 
and the people he visited. For George 
Washington was a man always educating 
himself by the society in which he moved. 

As a public man, Washington was an 
author of state papers which will go down 
to posterity as among the ablest utterances 
of the human mind. The main source of 
our direct knowledge of Washington is his 
own thoughts especially as revealed in pri- 
vate and intimate letters. 


Washington, throughout his life, was a 
man accustomed to statements of high 
principles in a high way. Take, for instance, 
sentences from his addresses to the people 
and private letters after the Revolution while 
the question of a federal government was 
still pending: "Today one nation; tomorrow 
thirteen." "Influence is no government." 
You have a whole political dictionary ap- 
plied in that sentence. That Washington 
was an educated man is shown also by the 
tributes of various orders, learned societies 
and colleges as indicated by an accompany- 
ing list. In education he sat in the seats of 
the mighty. 

George Washington was an educator be- 
cause in his life he set forth what an Ameri- 
can gentleman could be. He used every 
means within his power to make him under- 
stand better the world about him and his 
fellow men. George Washington first edu- 
cated himself; then he educated the young 
people connected with him so far as he could 
reach; and eventually he educated all the 
people of the United States of America by 
his lofty character and the power of expres- 
sion which marks him as one of his coun- 
try's great writers. "There is one glory of 
the sun, and another glory of the moon, and 
another glory of the stars: for one star dif- 
fereth from another star in glory." The 
glory of Washington, however, is not that 
of the sun or of the moon, but of the solar 
system, for he was one of the most many- 
sided men who ever lived. 

Nowadays people pay little regard to the 
mythical Washington, a combination of 
Hercules, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Little 
Lord Fauntleroy, who always spoke in bal- 
anced periods. This majestic personality is 
chiefly the creation of Parsons Weems, who 
by his unrivalled skill in historical romance 

created an artificial figure which has been 
accepted by a large number of people as 
though it was founded on facts. 

The real Washington was the public 
man — the character most in our minds; the 
pioneer, the explorer, the soldier, the states- 
man, the patriot, the high model for man- 
kind. The longer one lives and the more 
one studies American history the greater does 
that figure rise, great in its patience. Wash- 
ington was a founder, an organizer. He 
could have set up a university or a social 
science association or an engineer's club or 
a Rockefeller Foundation. He had within 
him that incomprehensible power which en- 
abled him to run anything from a flour 
mill to the United States of America. 

A Washington less considered than the 
myth, the statesman, or the home man, is 
the intellectual George Washington. Such 
a subject divides itself naturally into three 
parts: Washington's early training; his 
writings and their value; and the influence 
upon his country and mankind of his high 
standards of character and statesmanship. 
Of all the contributions made by the Ameri- 
can Revolution to mankind, the two great- 
est are George Washington's character and 
George Washington's intellectual power. 

Of late years we have been learning some- 
thing about a third kind of Washington, the 
private gentleman and man of affairs. We 
see him riding his plantation; reproving the 
overseers, benevolently dosing his slaves, 
buying lottery tickets, on which he almost 
invariably lost, speculating in land, shipping 
his crops, buying dresses for Mrs. Washing- 
ton and "Patsy Custis," "6 little books for 
Children beginning to Read," "1 fashionable 
dressed baby to cost 10 shillings," "a Box 
Gingerbread Toys and Sugar Images and 
Comfits." On the other hand, if George 
Washington were alive today he would be 
the president of locomotive works, or a rail- 
road, or steel works. 


Of the influences upon the early develop- 
ment of Washington's mind, the most sig- 
nificant are his home, his school, his associa- 
tion with cultivated people, and the train- 
ing of responsibility. As to Washington's 
home life if, as some of the neighbors of 
the mother of Washington thought, she was 
fond and unthinking with her son, she did 
not spoil him, and George Washington was 
not the only great man of the time whose 
mother smoked a pipe (customary to old 
ladies) and quarrelled with the doctor and 
imagined she was neglected by her very 
faithful son and whose vigorous traits of 
character reappear in her offspring. In her 
pioneer life she was a strong, energetic, and 
forcible woman. A strong influence on 
Washington was that of his half brothers, 
Lawrence and Augustine, well-to-do men of 
culture. From Lawrence he inherited the 
splendid country seat of Mount Vernon, 
which in itself is the evidence of the good 
breeding and refinement of the occupant. 

Washington the Man of Mind 


To modern college graduates it is humili- 
ating to notice how little proper schooling 
Washington had: he possibly had a tutor, 
who might or might not have been an inden- 
tured convict servant; and another who was 
a clergyman. He may also have gone to one 
or two ordinary schools, where he studied 
the three R's and a little "Latten." The 
most important result of his early schooling, 
on which we have no real information, was 
the acquisition of that fine handwriting, 
which is such a reproach to men of the 
present day. 

One useless embellishment Washington 
spared himself: he never learned to accept 
the canons of spelling which were then 
forming; he preferred to spell glue "glew," 
and window "winder," and indeed, what is 
the use of being the father of one's country, 
if one must accept the children's abnormal 
notions of the way to spell their own lan- 
guage. It is not all of an English style to 
write with perfect grammar, nor is it all of 
education to go to college. It should be 
noted however that throughout his life 
Washington felt the need of education, and 
used all his influence to supply for his step- 
son and nephews and young friends the 
advantages which he had missed. 


His notions of college education are set 
forth in a letter of January 2, 1771, with 
relation to young Custis: 

"Had he begun, or rather pursued his 
study of the Greek Language, I should have 
thought it no bad acquisition; but whether 
[if] he acquire this now, he may not forego 
some more useful branches of learning, is a 
matter worthy of consideration. To be ac- 
quainted with the French Tongue is become 
a part of polite Education; and to a man 
who has [the prospect] of mixing in a large 
Circle absolutely [necessary. Without] 
Arithmetick, the common [affairs of] Life 
are not to be managed [with success. The 
study of Geo]metry, and the Mathe[matics 
(with due regard to the li] mites of it) is 
equally [advantageous. The principles] of 
Philosophy Moral, Natural, &c. I should 
think a very desirable knowledge for a Gen- 
tleman." In Washington's accounts appears: 
"Dr. James Craik, paid him, being a dona- 
tion to his son, George Washington Craik, 
£30." The two sons of his brother Samuel 
he had educated at a cost "of near five- 
thousand dollars." 

Later in life, in 178 8, he was chosen 
chancellor of William and Mary College, an 
honorary position; and earlier, after first de- 
clining, he appears to have accepted mem- 
bership in the governing board of Washing- 
ton College, Maryland. 


Much more important for Washington's 
own intellectual development was his early 
association with cultivated people. Nowhere 
in America was there a more settled and 
aristocratic society than in Virginia; and 

young Washington was made welcome by 
such families as the Fairfaxes, Carlyles, the 
"Carters of Shirley, Nomoni and Sabine 
Hall," the Lees of Stratford, the Byrds of 
Westover. The father and two brothers of 
Washington were educated at the school of 
Appleby in England. As soon as his public 
career began, he was brought into close asso- 
ciation with the most highly educated states- 
men of the time, Thomas Jefferson, a former 
student of William and Mary, and James 
Madison, a student of Princeton, and during 
his presidency he was intimate with John 
Adams, a graduate of Harvard, and Alex- 
ander Hamilton, student of Columbia. From 
the period of Braddock's campaign to the 
end of his life, his house was a constant 
resort for the most highly educated and 
interesting Americans and foreign visitors, 
and it is not remarkable that he escaped 
from his early faults of writing and became 
a man of cultured thought and of strong, 
keen, and agreeable expression. 


Washington was not only a cultured man, 
he was a highly educated man, educated 
chiefly by the experience of great responsi- 
bilities, the best of all educative systems. It 
is unfortunate that by the term "educated" 
man or woman people nowadays mean one 
who has had the training of schools or col- 
leges. How many people we all know who 
are really educated without large acquaint- 
ance with books. Education is the training 
of one's individual powers, so that one may 
meet a new problem or new conditions, and 
apply to them the whole body of one's past 
experience. The educated man is the man 
who knows how to do things, even things 
that have never been done before. General 
Grant was an educated man who applied the 
experience of a lifetime to great military 
problems; but General Grant's West Point 
training was a small part of his education, 
and he used to say that he never read books; 
yet he showed in his last months a wonderful 
power of writing. Henry Ford, once a la- 
borer, developed into what a wit calls an 
"automobillionaire," is an educated man. 
Even such a pursuit as the management and 
manipulation of a trust requires intellectual 
training. Washington was a man who knew 
how to make his surroundings educate him. 
In Braddock's army he was the largest man; 
in the government of Virginia under Din- 
widdie he was the most aggressive man; in 
the second Continental Congress, the plain 
and quiet Colonel Washington was one of 
the most respected men; and from the be- 
ginning to the end of his life, Washington 
never threw up a responsibility because he 
felt that he had not the training to fulfil it. 

Washington's responsibilities began early: 
at sixteen years old the modern American 
boy begins to wonder whether he could pass 
an examination for college; at sixteen Wash- 
ington was starting out as a surveyor in the 
western wilds, where he camped and slept 
on the hard ground, and ate coarse food and 

was proud of his doubloon a day. At twenty 
he became the heir to Mount Vernon; at 
twenty-one the dauntless agent of the colony 
of Virginia to the French frontier; at 
twenty-three he was the bravest figure on 
Braddock's field; at twenty-six he was 
married in blue and silver, adorned with 
scarlet, and wearing gold buckles; and hence- 
forward to the Revolution he continued to 
be the type of the active-minded Virginia 
planter, head of a great family. Possibly 
the future General and President got some 
experience of life through his own responsi- 
bility for his own kindred; as for instance, 
niece Harriet, who he says showed "no dis- 
position . . .to be careful of her cloathes 
. . . dabbed about in every hole and corner, 
and her best things always in use." "She 
costs me enough." 

Washington's career as a statesman may 
be said to have begun after his election to 
the House of Burgesses of Virginia in 175 8. 
For years he remained constantly a quiet, 
unassuming member of that body, contain- 
ing so many men both of distinction and 
experience. It was years before he realized 
his remarkable powers of judgment and 


After the war Washington tried to com- 
bine a tutorship with a secretaryship. "My 
purposes are these — To write letters agree- 
ably to what shall be dictated. Do all other 
writing which shall be entrusted to him. 
Keep Accts. — examine, arrange, and properly 
methodize my Papers, which are in great 
disorder. — Ride, at my expence, to such 
other States, if I should find it more con- 
venient to send, than attend myself, to the 
execution thereof. And, which was not 
hinted at in my last, to initiate two little 
children (a girl of six and a boy of 4 years 
of age, descendants of the deceased Mr. Cus- 
tis, who live with me and are very promis- 
ing) in the first rudements of education. 
This to both parties, would be mere amuse- 
ment, because it is not my wish that the 
Children should be confined. If Mr. Fal- 
coner should incline to accept the above 
stipend in addition to his board, washing 
and mending, — and you (for I would rather 
have your opinion of the gentleman than the 
report of a thousand others in his favor) 
upon a close investigation of his character, 
Temper and moderate political tenets (for 
supposing him an English man, he may come 
with prejudices, and doctrines of his Coun- 
try) the sooner he comes, the better my 
purpose would be promoted." 

Except the Journals of 1753 and 1754, 
none of Washington's early writings affected 
the public mind. In 1775, then forty-three 
years old, he was put into a position which 
proved that of the greatest responsibility in 
the whole country. Benjamin Franklin was 


Honor to George Washington 

a world-renowned literary man, Hutchinson 
had already published several volumes of his 
history, read far and wide, Francis Hopkin- 
son was about to begin his excellent satirical 
writings; the press abounded in controversial 
discussion of the issues of the Revolution, 
both grave and gay. No one could have 
predicted that the writings of George Wash- 
ington would be read when all the others, 
except Franklin, were almost forgotten. In- 
deed, his speech of June 16, 1775, is the 
statement of a great man, little aware of his 
own greatness. 

"Mr. President, though I am truly sensible 
of the high honor done me in this appoint- 
ment, yet I feel great distress from a con- 
sciousness that my abilities and military 
experience may not be equal to the extensive 
and important trust. However, as the Con- 
gress desire it, I will enter upon the mo- 
mentous duty and exert every power I 
possess in the service and for the support of 
the glorious cause. I beg they will accept 
my most cordial thanks for this distinguished 
testimony of their approbation. But lest 
some unlucky event should happen unfavor- 
able to my reputation, I beg it may be re- 
membered by every gentleman in the room, 
that I this day declare with the utmost sin- 
cerity I do not think myself equal to the 
command I am honored with." 

No sooner had Washington become the 
General of the Continental Army, than he 
was compelled to become not only an author 
but the head of a literary bureau. As the 
war went on, he was not only commander 
of the army but virtual head of the govern- 
ment. Having a vast acquaintance among 
both military men and civilians, his mind 
was filled with the most important public 
questions, upon which he must express him- 
self, and he knew no form of expression that 
was not vigorous. No wonder that in the 
Revolutionary correspondence we find a real 
intellectual growing power, working up to a 
consciousness of an ability to express his 
thoughts worthily. 


The correspondence in Washington's own 
hand was vast, but the General Orders and 
manifold letters written by secretaries must 
have been many times more numerous. For 
a long time Washington found it difficult to 
attach to himself a young man with suit- 
able power of expression. Indeed through- 
out his life the secretaries and assistants were 
convinced that they themselves composed 
Washington's letters. If however the secre- 
taries are the authors of the compositions 
which went to presidents of congress, gover- 
nors, states, heads of armies, men influential 
in assemblies, and personal friends, then 
Washington not only secured a verv high 
but a very even quality of secretary, for 
from beginning to end the letters have the 
same characteristics. It is notable, that with 
the exception of Hamilton, whose literary 
power is undeniab'e, none of the young men 
who came close to Washington, wrote for 

themselves the powerful sentences which 
they thought they wrote for Washington. 

The truth is that Washington, realizing 
the responsibility, set himself carefully to 
the work of composition, as he did to every 
other task that came to him. He wrote, he 
reflected, he corrected, he rewrote, until he 
had struck out a style of his own, which 
may be detected in nearly all his important 
communications. It was not his custom to 
dictate letters; he never had Napoleon's 
facility of keeping four secretaries busy at 
once. It was his habit to reread letters care- 
fully before answering them, then to write 
with his own hand a rough draft. In many 
cases these were rewritten a second time by 
his own hand, in others by secretaries. 

After the end of the Revolution, Wash- 
ington realized the historical importance of 
his correspondence, and secured the prepara- 
tion of books of copies. In this process he 
made some small changes in the text, and 
the result is that the same letter sometimes 
exists in two forms in Washington's hand, 
and in a third form in copy. Hence some 
of his editors have been accused of mal- 
treating the letters and suppressing impor- 
tant passages. Excellent Jared Sparks was 
pained that the father of his country should 
misspell or make false grammar and hence 
Sparks's edition of Washington's Writings 
often planed down letters and deprived them 
of their vigor. Nevertheless the real life 
and go of the spirit which indited them are 
plainly evident. 

A few examples will illustrate the various 
types of Washington letters. Military let- 
ters are very numerous and chiefly formal, 
directing the disposition and movement of 
troops. Military correspondence on techni- 
cal questions was very often prepared by a 
secretary from a draft or suggestion of 
Washington. Many of these military letters 
show remarkable pith, as for example, his 
answer to the letter sent him by the British 
Commissioner, addressed "Mr. Washington." 
"The letter is directed to a planter of the 
state of Virginia. I shall have it delivered 
to him at the end of the war; till that time 
it shall not be opened." 


The same interest in education is shown 
in a speech to Congress in 1790. 

"Nor am I less persuaded, that you will 
agree with me in opinion, that there is noth- 
ing which can better deserve your patronage 
than the promotion of science and literature. 
Knowledge is in every country the surest 
basis of public happiness. In one, in which 
the measures of government receive their 
impression so immediately from the sense of 
the community, as in ours, it is proportion- 
ably essential. To the security of a free 
constitution it contributes in various wavs; 
by convincing those who are intrusted with 
the public administration, that every valu- 
able end of government is best answered bv 
the enlightened confidence of the people: and 
by teaching the people themselves to know. 

and to value their own rights; to discern 
and provide against invasions of them; to 
distinguish between oppression and the neces- 
sary exercise of lawful authority, between 
burthens proceedings from a disregard to 
their convenience and those resulting from 
the inevitable exigencies of society; to dis- 
criminate the spirit of liberty from that of 
licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding 
the last, and uniting a speedy but temperate 
vigilance against encroachments, with an 
inviolable respect to the laws. 

"Whether this desirable object will be the 
best promoted by affording aids to semi- 
naries of learning already established, by the 
institution of a national university, or by 
any other expedients, will be well worthy 
of a place in the deliberations of the legis- 


What was to give the necessary oppor- 
tunity of a genuine college education? For 
years a plan was in Washington's mind 
which he thus expressed with the intention 
to back up the plan with his own money. 
"I have greatly wished to see a plan adopted, 
by which the arts, sciences, and belles-lettres 
could be taught in their fullest extent, 
thereby embracing all the advantages of 
European tuition, with the means of acquir- 
ing the liberal knowledge, which is necessary 
to qualify our citizens for the exigencies of 
public as well as private life; and (which 
with me is a consideration of great magni- 
tude) by assembling the youth from the 
different parts of this rising republic, con- 
tributing from their intercourse and inter- 
change of information to the removal of 
prejudices, which might perhaps sometimes 
arise from local circumstances." 

As appears in his own statements of the 
convictions in his mind: "The Federal Citv, 
from its centrality and the advantages, 
which in other respects it must have over 
any other place in the United States, ought 
to be preferred, as a proper site for such an 
university. And if a plan can be adopted 
upon a scale as extensive as I have described, 
and the execution of it should commence 
under favorable auspices in a reasonable 
time, with a fair prospect of success, I will 
grant in perpetuity fifty shares in the navi- 
gation of Potomac River towards the endow- 
ment of it." 

"It has been represented, that a university 
corresponding with these ideas is contem- 
plated to be built in the Federal City, and 
that it will receive considerable endowments. 
This position is so eligible from its centrality, 
so convenient to Virginia, bv whose legisla- 
ture the shares were granted and in which 
part of the Federal District stands, and com- 
bines so many other conveniences, that T 
have determined to vest the Potomac shares 
in that university. 

"Presuming it to be more agreeable to the 
General Asembly of Virginia, that the shares 
in the James River Company should be re- 
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Honor to George Washington 

that State, I intend to allot them for a 
seminary to be erected at such place as they 
shall deem most proper. I am disposed to 
believe, that a seminary of learning upon an 
enlarged plan, but yet not coming up to the 
full idea of an university, is an institution to 
be preferred for the position which is to be 
chosen. The students who wish to pursue 
the whole range of science, may pass with ad- 
vantage from the seminary to the university, 
and the former by a due relation may be 
rendered cooperative with the latter." 

The best proof of the educative ability of 
Washington is that he was the leading man 
of his time in advocating a reorganization of 
education in the United States. As he put it: 
"The time is therefore come, when a plan of 
universal education ought to be adopted in 
the United States. Not only do the exigen- 
cies of public and private life demand it, but, 
if it should ever be apprehended, that preju- 
dice would be entertained in one part of the 
Union against another, an efficacious remedy 
will be, to assemble the youth of every part 
under such circumstances as will, by the 
freedom of intercourse and collision of senti- 
ment, give to their minds the direction of 
truth, philanthrophy, and mutual concilia- 
tion." He was much disturbed at a prac- 
tice of sending young Americans overseas — 
nearly all to England — for a genteel educa- 


His private letters which stand side by 
side with his formal and often indignant 
protests are equally characteristic. Take 
this one to his wife, June 18, 1775: "My 
Dearest, I am now set down to write to you 
on a subject, which fills me with inexpressi- 
ble concern, and this concern is greatly ag- 
gravated and increased, when I reflect upon 
the uneasiness I know it will give you. 
It has been determined in Congress, that the 
whole army raised for the defence of the 
American cause shall be put under my care, 
and that it is necessary for me to proceed 
immediately to Boston to take upon me the 
command of it. 

"You may believe me, my dear Patsy, 
when I assure you, in the most solemn man- 
ner, that, so far from seeking this appoint- 
ment, I have used every endeavor in my 
power to avoid it, not only from my un- 
willingness to part with you and the family, 
but from a consciousness of its being a trust 
too great for my capacity, and that I should 
enjoy more happiness in one month with you 
at home, than I have the most distant 
prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were 
to be seven times seven years. But as it has 
been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me 
upon this service, I shall hope that my under- 
taking it is designed to answer some good 


Although Washington was never a talking 
member of the Virginia Assembly or of the 
Continental Congress, he did have a power 

of vigorous expression which made itself 
felt in letters, in council, and in conference; 
perhaps we might say that the temperateness 
of his more studied writings disappears. 
Thus in 1754, at the time of his capture of 
a body of French, he wrote: "If the whole 
Uetach't of the French behave with no more 
Resolution than this chosen Party did, I 
flatter myself we shall have no g't trouble in 
driving them to the d Montreal." 

When the Connecticut line broke on the 
landing of the British in New York in 1776, 
a contemporary wrote: "I dont know 
whether the New Engd. Troops will stand 
there, but I am sure they will not upon open 
Ground. I had a Specimen of that yester- 
day. Here two Brigades ran away from a 
small advanced party of the Regulars, tho' 
the General did all in his power to convince 
them they were in no danger. He laid his 
Cane over many of the Officers who shewed 
their men the Example of running. These 
were militia, the New England continental 
Troops are much better." 

Another authority said the General 
damned them for cowardly rascals. Upon 
the Tories he fixes the unfavorable term of 
"execrable paracides." When he went to 
Boston to take command of the army in 
1775, he wrote back, "I have made a pretty 
good slam among such kind of officers as the 
Massachusetts Government abound in." 
When Lee retreated at Monmouth, it is re- 
corded that "Washington swore like an 
Angel." In 1778 he wrote to his friend 
Harrison, a most vigorous denunciation of 
the state of public feeling. 

There were some occasions when mild and 
stately language did not express all the presi- 
dential mind. In a Cabinet meeting in 1793 
Jefferson tells us that "The President was 
much inflamed; got into one of those pas- 
sions when he cannot command himself; ran 
on much on the personal abuse which had 
been bestowed on him; defied any man on 
earth to produce one single act of his since 
he had been in the government, which was 
not done on the purest motives; that he had 
never repented but once the having slipped 
the moment of resigning his office, and that 
was every moment since; that by Cod he had 
rather be in his grave than in his present 
situation; that he had rather be on his farm 
than to be made Emperor of the world; and 
yet thev were charging him with wanting to 
be a King. That that rascal Freneaii sent 
him three of his papers every day, as if he 
thought he would become the distributor of 
his papers; and that he could see in this, 
nothing but an impudent design to insult 

After the defeat of St. Clair in 1791, 
Washington fairlv broke down before his 
secretary and said: "And yet, to suffer that 
army to be cut to pieces, hacked, butchered, 
tomahawked, by a surprise, the very thing I 
guarded him against! O God, O God, he's 
worse than a murderer. How can he 
answer it to his country? The blood of the 
slain is upon him, the curse of widows and 

orphans, the curse of Heaven!" But then 
he added, "General St. Clair shall have 
justice, I will hear him without prejudice, he 
shall have full justice." 

. Washington's private letters during his ad- 
ministration are still numerous, but he was 
at the same time more occupied and geo- 
graphically nearer to the men to whom he 
would naturally write; but he kept up his 
habit of correspondence, also of journal 
keeping, for he was always exact in private 
matters and memoranda to the very end of 
his life. 


In this survey of the field of Washing- 
ton's intellectual life, it appears that rather 
by force of circumstances than by any 
preparation he was compelled to learn the 
art of expression. Certainly in public, in 
private, on matters financial, commercial, 
military, and civil, he was the most active 
minded and effective writer of his time. As 
years passed by, his own greater experience 
of life and the confidence of the American 
people gave more and more weight to what 
he said, so that great state papeis like the 
Farewell Address have come to have in the 
minds of the American people almost the 
force of law. 

The intellectual influence of Washington, 
however, is far wider than its immediate ef- 
fect upon the generation in which he lived. 
First of all he is an author who is still read. 
Some of his public papers, such as the letter 
to the governors, his first inaugural, his 
Farewell Address, are classics in American 
history, well known by school children. His 
letters, part of them gathered into two 
formal editions, others scattered through 
many works, are a fundamental source for 
every writer of history of his time. No 
man of his time, in public or private life, 
whether statesman or poet or historian, ex- 
cept perhaps Benjamin Franklin, has had 
anything like his influence upon the minds 
of his countrymen. 

Washington was a great writer; he was a 
great writer in the actual amount of his 
literary composition thought by posterity 
worthy of preservation; he was a great writer 
in the millions who have read and pondered 
his words; he was further a great writer in 
the power of brief and memorable statement, 
which has caused little fragments from his 
writings to be embedded in the literature of 
our race. 

Washington is also a great writer in the 
noble aims and purposes which he sets forth. 
Probably no man ever lived who was further 
from sordidness and pettiness which can be 
found even in some very great characters. 
In his private life he needed no assertion of 
his personal dignity; he was the foremost 
citizen of Virginia. In his public life he 
needed no restraint of anything that he 
might say lest it should make him unpopu- 
lar; his reputation in his own lifetime was 
beyond attack. Hence there was no risk in 

Washington the Man of Mind 


setting forth patriotic standards of life; but 
had those later expressions lost him his gen- 
eralship or his presidency he would never- 
theless have used them. If his mind was 
bent upon a great plan, he knew instinct- 
ively what his countrymen intended to do 
and would do. He did not plead for na- 
tionality, for economy, for honesty, for pub- 
lic spirit, for self-sacrificing rulers: those 
things seemed to him the natural principles 
of a gentleman. For himself he knew no 
other standards. 

Washington was a great writer because 
of his clear and forcible forms of expression. 
The fashion of his time was one of orotund 

periods and large words, and from that 
fashion he did not deviate; but out of that 
somewhat unnatural style he causes the 
voice of Jove to speak; he had an innate 
sense of form, of propriety, of what was 
too much, what was too little. His letters 
and his public writings express his mind, 
nobody ever found them ambiguous, nobody 
ever found him trying to say what two 
parties might each construe according to its 
own preference. 

To sum up, George Washington, surveyor, 
frontiersman, soldier, planter, commander 
of the armies of the United Colonies, and 
President of the United States, was a great 

writer and a great intellectual influence in 
his essential and absolute truthfulness. 
He said what he thought, he withheld 
nothing that seemed to him necessary to say. 
The soul of courtesy, writing with the most 
admirable reserves and delicacy on such 
difficult occasions as the censure of Benedict 
Arnold, he wrote things as he saw them; 
and the essential element of truth in the 
main shines through every letter. He had a 
right to say of himself: "I do not recollect 
that in the course of my life I ever for- 
feited my word, or broke a promise made 
to anyone." 

Part II 

GEOMETRY (1745) 
"One of the Seven Sciences, and a very 
useful and Necessary Branch of the Mathe- 
matick; whose Subject is greatness; for 
as Number is the Subject of Arithmetick, 
so that of Geometry is Magnitude, which 
hath its beginning from Point, that is a 
Thing Supposed to be indivisible, and the 
Original of all Dimension. By it is explained 
the Nature, Kind and Property of continued 
Magnitude that is a Line, a Superficies and 
a Solid of which in their proper Order. 

"Is the Art of Measuring Land and con- 
sists of 3 Parts 1st, The going round and 
Measuring a Piece of Wood Land 2d. 
Plotting the Same and 3d To find the Con- 
tent thereof." 


"Defin. 1st. The Globe of the Earth is 
a Spherical Body Composed of Earth and 
Water &c. Divided in to Contenants Islands 
and Seas. 

"2d. A Contenent is a great Quantity of 
Land not Divided nor Separated by the Sea 
wherein are many Kingdoms and Princi- 
palities; as Europe Asia Africa is one Con- 
tinent and America Another. 

"3d. An Island is such a Part of the 
Earth that is environed round with Water 
as the Island of great Britain, Ireland, Bar- 
badoes and Jamaica. . '. . 

"The Provinces of North America are 

New France Virginia 

New England Carolina North and 
New York South 

Pennsylvania Terra Florida 

New Jersey Mexico or New 
Maryland Spain 

"The Chief Islands are 
Icelands Porto Rico 

Greenland Jamaica 

Colofornia Barbadoes and the rest 

Hispaniola of the Caribee Isc- 

Cuba lands" 


"Hunc mihi quaeso (bone Vir) Libellum 
Redde, si forsan tenues repertum 
Ut Scias qui sum sine fraude Scriptum. 
Est mihi nomen, 
Georgio Washington, 
George Washington, 





"1st Every Action done in Company, 
ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to 
those that are Present. . . . 

"3d Shew Nothing to your Friend that 
may affright him. 

"4 In the Presence of Others Sing not to 
yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum 
with your Fingers or Feet. . . . 

"6th Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not 
when others stand, Speak not when you 
Should hold your Peace, walk not on when 
others Stop. . . . 

"8th At Play and at Fire its Good man- 
ners to Give Place to the last Commer, and 
affect not to Speak Louder than Ordi- 
nary . . . 

"17th Be no Flaterer, neither Play with 
any that delights not to be Play'd 

"18th Read no Letters, Books, or Papers 
in Company but when there is a Necessity 
for the doing of it you must ask leave: 
come not near the Books or Writings of 
Another so as to read them unless desired 
or give your opinion of them unask'd also 
look not high when another is writing a 
Letter. . . . 

"21st Reproach none for the Infirmaties 
of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that 
have in mind thereof. 

2 2d Shew not yourself glad at the Mis- 
fortune of another though he were your 
enemy. . . . 

"26th In Pulling off your Hat to Persons 
of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, 
Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing 
more or less according to the Custom of the 
Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. 
Amongst your equals expect not always 
that they Should begin with you first, but 
to Pull off the Hat when there is no need 
is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting 
and resaluting in words to keep to the most 
usual Custom . . . 

"29 th When you meet with one of 
Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and re- 
tire especially if it be at a Door or any 
Straight place to give way for him to 
Pass . . . 

"33d They that are in Dignity or in 
office have in all places Preceedency but 
whilst they are Young they out to respect 
those that are their equals in Birth or other 
Qualitys, though they have no Publick 
charge. . . . 

"3 5th Let your Discourse with Men of 
Business be Short and Comprehensive. . . . 

"39th In writing or Speaking, give to 
every Person his due Title According to his 
Degree & the Custom of the Place. . . . 

"44th When a man does all he can though 
it Succeeds not well blame not him that did 
it. . . . 

"5 2d In Your Apparel be Modest and en- 
deavour to accomodate Nature, rather than 
to procure Admiration keep to the 
Fashio[n] of your equals Such as are Civil 
and orderly with respect to Times and 
Places . . . 

"56th Associate yourself with Men of 
good Quality if you Esteem your own 
Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than 
in bad Company . . . 

"5 8th Let your Conversation be without 
Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sig[n o]f a 
Tractable and Commendable Nature: And 
in all Causes of Passion [ad]mit Reason to 
Govern . . . 


Honor to George Washington 

"62d Speak not of doleful Things in a 
Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not 
of Melancholy Things as Death and 
Wounds, and if others Mention them 
Change if you can the Discourse tell not 
your Dreams, but to your intimate 
Friend . . . 

"64th Break not a Jest where none take 
pleasure in mirth Laugh not loud, nor at all 
without Occasion, deride no mans Mis- 
fortune, tho' there seem to be Some 
cause . . . 

"72d Speak not in an unknown Tongue 
in Company but in your own Language 
and that as those of Quality do and not as 
y e Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Se- 
riously . . . 

"79th Be not apt to relate News if you 
know not the truth thereof. In Discours- 
ing of things you Have heard Name not 
your Author always A [Sejcret Discover 
not . . . 

"82d Undertake not what you cannot 
Perform but be Carefull to keep your 
Promise . . . 

"89th Speak not Evil of the Absent for 
it is unjust . . . 

"[l]05th Be not Angry at Table what- 
ever happens & if you have reason to be so, 
Shew it not but on a Chearful Counten- 
ance especially if there be Strangers for 
Good Humour makes one Dish of Meat 
a Feas[t] . . . 

"108th When you Speak of God or his 
Atributes, let it be Seriously & [with] 
Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural 
Parents altho they be Poor 

"109th Let your Recreations be Manfull 
not Sinfull. 

" 1 1 0th Labour to keep alive in your 
Breast that Little Spark of Ce[les]tial fire 
Called Conscience. 



"From your bright sparkling Eyes, I was 

Rays, you have more transparent than the 

A midst its glory in the rising Day, 
None can you equal in your bright array; 
Constant in your calm and unspotted 

Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind, 
So knowing, seldom one so Young, you'l 

Ah! woe's me, that I should Love and 

Long have I wish'd, but never dare reveal, 
Even though severly Loves Pains I feel; 
Xerxes that great, was't free from Cupids 

And all the greatest Heroes, felt the 



"Dear Friend Robin: . . . My place of 
residence is at present at his Lordship's, 
where I might, was my heart disengaged, 
pass my time very pleasantly as there's a 

very agreeable young lady lives in the same 
house, (Colonel George Fairfax's wife's 
sister.) But as that's only adding fuel to 
fire, it makes me the more uneasy, tor by 
often, and unavoidably, being in company 
with her revives my former passion for 
your Lowland beauty; whereas, was I to 
live more retired from young women, I 
might in some measure eliviate my sorrows, 
by burying that chaste and troublesome 
passion in the grave of oblivion or etarnall 
forgetfulness, for as I am very well as- 
sured, that's the only antidote or remedy, 
that I ever shall be relieved by or only re- 
cess that can administer any cure or help to 
me, as I am well convinced, was I ever to at- 
tempt any thing, I should only get a denial 
which would be only adding grief to un- 


(1749 or 1750) 
"I heartily Congratulate you on the happy 
News of my Brothers safe arrival in health 
in England and am joy'd to hear that his 
stay is likely to be so short. I hope you'll 
make Use of your Natural Resolution and 
contendness as they are the only remedys to 
spend the time with ease and pleasure to 
yourself. I am deprived of the pleasure of 
waiting on you (as I expected) by Aguee 
and Feaver which I have had to Extremety 
since I left which has occasioned my Re- 
turn D[own].'" 


'[Oct.] 7th. . . . Saw many fish swim- 
ming abt. us of which a Dolphin we catchd. 
at Noon but cou'd not intice with a baited 
hook two Baricootas which played under 
our Stern for some Hours; the Dolphin be- 
ing small we had it dressed for Supper . . . 

"20th. A Constant succession of hard 
Winds, Squals of Rain, and Calms was the 
remarkable attendants of this day which 
was so sudden and flighty we durst not go 
under any but reef'd Sails and those that 
we cou'd D R [double reef] At 6 A M put 
abt. to the Eastward A sloop that for the 
two preceding Days was [in] sight of us 
hung out a Signal but wheth[er] distress 
or not we are uncertain; if it had [been we] 
were incapable of relieving them by ye 
contrs. of [the wind?] . . . 

'[30th] This Morning arose with agree- 
ably assurances of a certain and steady trade 
Wind which after near five Weeks of buf- 
fiting and being toss'd by a fickle and 
Merciless ocean was glad'ening knews: the 
preceeding night we separated from sloop 
abe mentioned . . . 

'[Nov. 2d] We were grea . . . larm'd 
with the cry of Land at 4 A: M: we 
quitted out beds with surprise and found 
ye land plainly appearing at [a] bout 3 
leauges distance . . . 

'[4th. Early this morning came Dr. 
Hilary, an eminent physician recommended 
by Major Clarke, to pass his opinion on my 
brother's disorder, which he did in a favor- 
able light, giving gieat assurance, that it 

was not so fixed but that a cure might be 
effectually made. In the cool of the 
evening we rode out accompanied by Mr. 
Carter to seek lodgings in the country, as the 
Doctor advised,] and was perfectly rav . . . 
the beautiful prospects which on every side 
presented to our view The fields of Cain, 
Corn, Fruit Trees &c in a delightful Green. 
We return'd without accomplishing our 
intentions. . . . 

"6th. . . . Receiv'd a Card from Majr. 
Clarke wherein our companys were desir'd 
to Dinner to morrow and myself an invita- 
tion from Mrs. Clarke and Miss Robts. to 
come and see the seprts fir'd being gunpd. . . . 

"9th. We receiv'd a card from Majr. 
Clarke inviting us to dine with him at 
Judge Maynards on the Morrow he had a 
right to ask being a Member of the Club 
call'd the Beefstake and tripe instituted by 
himself. . . . 

"[10th] . . . After Dinner was the 
greatest Collection of Fruits I have yet seen 
on the Table there was Granadella the Sap- 
padilla Pomgranate Sweet Orange Water 
Lemmon forbidden Fruit apples Guavas &ca. 
&ca. &ca. . . . 

"15th. Was treated with a play ticket by 
Mr. Carter to see the Tragedy of George 
Barnwell acted: the character of Barnwell 
and several others was said to be well per- 
form'd there was Musick a Dapted and regu- 
larly conducted by Mr. . . . 

"\7th. Was strongly attacked with the 
small Pox: sent for Dr. Lanahan whose at- 
tendance was very constant till my re- 
covery, and going out which was not 'till 
thursday the 12th of December. . . . 

"[Dec] 22d. Took my leave of my Br. 
Majr. Clarke &ca. and Imbar[ked] in the 
Industry Captn. John Saund[ers] for Vir- 
ginia wai'd anchor and got out of Carlile 
Bay abt. 12. . . . How wonderful that 
such people shou'd be in debt! and not be 
able to indulge themselves in all the Lux- 
urys as well as necessarys of Life Yet so it 
happens Estates are often alienated for the 
debts . . . Hospitality and a Genteel be- 
havior] is shewn to every gentlemen 
stranger by the Gentlemen Inhabitants. 
. . .] Taverns they have none but in their 
Towns so that Travellers is oblig'd to go 
to private houses however the Island being 
but abt. 22 Miles in length and 14 in width 
preven[ts] their being much infested with 
ym. . . . There are few who may be calld 
midling people they are either very rich or 
very poor for by a Law of the Island Every 
Gentn. is oblig'd to keep a white person for 
ten Acres capable of acting in the Militia 
and consequently those persons so kept cant 
but [be] very poor. . . . 

"[Jan. 29?, 1752] Early this Morning 
. . . Wind sprang up at Sp. Et. made Sail 
under easv Gales past the Cape abt. Sun's 
Rising and ?ot to the Mouth of York River 
abt. 11 P. M. and was met by a pilot boat." 

"I think I can do no less than apologize, 
in some Measure, for the numberless Im- 

Washington the Man of Mind 


perfections of it. There intervened but one 
Day between my Arrival in Williamsburg, 
and the Time for the Council's Meeting, 
for me to prepare and transcribe, from the 
rough Minutes I had taken in my Travels, 
this Journal; the writing of which only was 
sufficient to employ me closely the whole 
Time, consequently admitted of no Leisure 
to consult of a new and proper Form to 
offer it in, or to correct or amend the 
Diction of the old." 


"Where, how, or with [whom] my time 
is Spent. 

'[July] 1st. Doctr. Craik and his Com- 
panion went away before Breakfast, and 
Doctr. Rumney after Dinner. Miss Molly 
Manley came in the afternoon and stayd all 
Night. Rid with Mrs. Washington to the 
Ferry Plantn. 

"2. At home all day alone. 

"3. Rid into the Neck and by Muddy 
hole. Miss Moly Manley went home in the 

"4. At home all day. Mrs. Peake and her 
daughter dind here. 

"5. Rid with Mrs. Washington to Muddy 
hole, Doeg Run, and Mill Plantations. 

"6. At home all day. Mr. Peake dined 

"7. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 
the Mill. Mrs. Barnes and Molly McCarty 

"8. At home all day. Colo. Fairfax and 
Mrs. Fairfax came in the aftern. to take 
leave of us and returnd again. Dr. Craik 
also came and stayd all Night. 

"9. Dr. Craik went away in the Morning 
Early, Miss Molly McCarty in the After- 
noon. Mrs. Washington and self went to 
Belvoir to see them take Shipping. Mr. Robt. 
Adams and Mr. Mattw. Campbell dined 


"I thank you for your frequent mention 
of Mrs. Washington. I expect she will be 
in Philadelphia about the time this letter 
may reach you, on her way hither. As she 
and her conductor, (who I expect will be 
Mr. Custis, her son,) are perfect strangers 
to the road, the stages, and the proper place 
to cross Hudson's River (by all means avoid- 
ing New York,) I shall be much obliged 
in your particular instructions and advice 
to her. I do imagine, as the roads are bad 
and the weather cold, her stages must be 
short, especially as I expect her horses will 
be pretty much fatigued; as they will, by 
the time she gets to Philadelphia, have per- 
formed a journey of at least four hundred 
and fifty miles, my express finding of her 
among her friends near Williamsburg, one 
hundred and fifty miles below my own 
house." . 

HUMOR (1779) 
"Dr. Doctr., I have asked Mrs. Cochran 
& Mrs. Livingston to dine with me to- 

morrow; but am I not in honor bound to 
apprize them of their fare? As I hate 
deception, even where the imagination only 
is concerned; I will. It is needless to pre- 
mise, that my table is large enough to hold 
the ladies. Of this they had ocular proof 
yesterday. To say how it is usually covered, 
is rather more essential; and this shall be 
the purport of my Letter. 

"Since our arrival at this happy spot, we 
have had a ham, (sometimes a shoulder) of 
Bacon, to grace the head of the Table; a 
piece of roast Beef adorns the foot; and a 
dish of beans, or greens, (almost imper- 
ceptible,) decorates the center. When the 
cook has a mind to cut a figure, (which I 
presume will be the case to-morrow,) we 
have two Beef-steak pyes, or dishes of crabs, 
in addition, one on each side the center dish, 
dividing the space & reducing the distance 
between dish & dish to about 6 feet, which 
without them would be near 12 feet apart. 
Of late he has had the surprising sagacity to 
discover, that apples will make pyes; and 
its a question, if, in the violence of his 
efforts, we do not get one of apples, instead 
of having both of Beef -steaks. If the ladies 
can put up with such entertainment, and 
will submit to partake of it on plates, once 
Tin but now Iron — (not become so by the 
labor of scouring), I shall be happy to see 
them; and am, dear Doctor, yours." 

"Arnold's conduct is so villanously per- 
fidious, that there are no terms that can 
describe the baseness of his heart. That over- 
ruling Providence, which has so often and 
so remarkably interposed in our favor, never 
manifested itself more conspicuously than 
in the timely discovery of his horrid inten- 
tion to surrender the Post and Garrison of 
West Point into the hands of the Enemy. 
I confine my remarks to this single act of 
perfidy; for I am far from thinking he in- 
tended to hazard a defeat of this important 
object, by combining another with it, altho, 
there were circumstances which led to a 
contrary belief. The confidence and folly, 
which has marked the subsequent conduct 
of this man, are of a piece with his villany; 
and all three are perfect in their kind." 

"However it may be the practice of the 
World, and those who see objects but par- 
tially, or thro' a false medium to consider 
that only as meritorious which is attended 
with success, I have accustomed myself to 
judge of human Actions very differently 
and to appreciate them by the manner in 
which they are conducted, more than by the 
Event; which it is not in the power of 
human foresight and prudence to command." 

"I must beg leave to say a word or two 
about these fine things you have been telling 
in such harmonious and beautiful numbers. 
Fiction is to be sure the very life and Soul 
of Poetrv — all Poets and Poetesses have been 
indulged in the free and indisputable we 

of it, time out of mind. And to oblige you 
to make such an excellent Poem on such a 
subject, without any materials but those of 
simple reality, would be as cruel as the Edict 
of Pharoah which compelled the children of 
Israel to manufacture Bricks without the 
necessary Ingredients." 

MARRIED (1783) 
"I never did, nor do I believe I ever 
shall, give advice to a woman, who is setting 
out on a matrimonial voyage; first, because 
I never could advise one to marry without 
her own consent; and, secondly, because I 
know it is to no purpose to advise her to 
refrain, when she has obtained it. A woman 
very rarely asks an opinion or requires advice 
on such an occasion, till her resolution is 
formed; and then it is with the hope and 
expectation of obtaining a sanction, not that 
she means to be governed by your disap- 
probation, that she applies. In a word, the 
plain English of the application may be 
summed up in these words: T wish you to 
think as I do; but, if unhappily you differ 
from me in opinion, my heart, I must con- 
fess, is fixed, and I have gone too far now 
to retract.' " 

LIFE (1784) 
"From the clangor of arms and the bustle 
of a camp, freed from the cares of public 
employment and the responsibility of office, 
I am now enjoying domestic ease under the 
shadow of my own vine and my own fig 
tree; and in a small villa, with the imple- 
ments of husbandry and lambkins around 
me, I expect to glide gently down the stream 
of life, till I am entombed in the dreary 
mansion of my fathers." 


"That a man of character & knowledge 
may be had for very high wages, there can 
be no doubt — money we know will fetch 
anything & command the services of any 
man; but with the former I do not abound." 


[Philip Barter, the gardener, binds him- 
self to keep sober for a year, and to fulfill 
his duties on the place, if allowed] "four 
dollars at Christmas, with which to be drunk 
four days and four nights; two dollars at 
Easter, to effect the same purpose; two dol- 
lars at Whitsuntide, to be drunk for two 
days, a dram in the morning, and a drink 
of grog at dinner, at noon. For the true 
and faithful performance of all these things, 
the parties have hereunto set their hands, 
this twenty-third day of April, Anno 
Domini, 1787. 

"Philip Barter X 
"George Washington 

George A. Washington, 
Tobias Lear." 


Honor to George Washington 

Part III 
Washington Sayings 


Clothes — "An invoice of clothes ... As 
they are designed for wearing-apparel for 
myself, I have committed the choice of them 
to your fancy, having the best opinion of 
your taste. I want neither lace nor em- 
broidery. Plain clothes, with a gold or silver 
button, (if worn in genteel dress,) are all 
I desire." 

Impartialities — "To please everybody is 
impossible; were I to undertake it, I should 
probably please nobody. If I know myself 
I have no partialities. I have from the be- 
ginning, and I hope I shall to the end, pur- 
sue to the utmost of my judgment and 
abilities, one steady line of conduct for the 
good of the great whole. This will, under 
all circumstances, administer consolation to 
myself, however short I may fall in the 
expectation of others." 

Plain and elegant — [His secretary had 
spoken of the rich and elegant style in which 
the state carriage was fitted up.] "I had 
rather have heard that my repaired coach 
was plain and elegant, than rich and ele- 

Posterity — "I had rather glide gently down 
the stream of life, leaving it to posterity to 
think and say what they please of me, than 
by any act of mine to have vanity or osten- 
tation imputed to me." 

Envious of none, pleased with all — 
"Envious of none, I am determined to be 
pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, 
being the order for my march, I will move 
gently down the stream of life, until I sleep 
with my fathers." 

Fatigue of the war — "I feel now, how- 
ever, as I conceive a wearied traveller must 
do, who, after treading many a painful step 
with a heavy burthen on his shoulders, is 
eased of the latter, having reached the haven 
to which all the former were directed; and 
from his house-top is looking back, and 
tracing with an eager eye the meanders by 
which he excaped the quicksands and mires 
which lay in his way; and into which none 
but the all-powerful Guide and Dispenser 
of human events could have prevented his 

Work well done — "The work is done, and 
well done." 

Rectitude — "I give you a proof of my 
friendship, if I give none of my policy or 
judgment. I do it on the presumption, that 
a mind, conscious of its own rectitude, fears 
not what is said of it, but will bid defiance 
to and despise shafts, that are not barbed 
with accusations against honor or integrity; 


Character — "Characters and habits are not 
easily taken up or suddenly laid aside." 

Character — "A good moral character is 
the first essential in a man. It is, therefore, 
highly important to endeavor not only to be 
learned but to be virtuous." 

Error — "Error is the portion of humanity, 
and to censure it, whether committed by 
this or that public character, is the preroga- 
tive of freemen." 

Indecision — "Accident may put a decisive 
blunderer in the right; but eternal defeat 
and miscarriage must attend the man of 
the best parts, if cursed with indecision." 

Highest bidder — "Few men have virtue to 
withstand the highest bidder." 

Candor — "My duty therefore to his 
Majesty, and the Colony whose troops I 
have the honor to command, obliged me to 
declare my sentiments upon the occasion 
with that candor and freedom of which you 
are witness. If I am deceived in my opinion, 
I shall acknowledge my error as becomes a 
gentleman led astray from judgment, and 
not by prejudice, in opposing a measure 
so conducive to the public Weal as you seem 
to have conceived this to be. If I unfortu- 
nately am right, my conduct will acquit me 
of having discharged my duty on this im- 
portant occasion; on the good success of 
which, our all, in a manner depends." 

Openness — "As I never say any thing of 
a Man that I have the smallest scruple of 
saying to him, I would not be understood 
to mean by this being between ourselves that 
any part of it that effects Mr. Sands should 
be hid from him. You are perfectly at 
liberty if you think it necessary to com- 
municate these my Sentiments to him." 

Gentleman — "I feel everything that hurts 
the sensibility of a gentleman." 

Promise — "I never wish to promise more 
than I have a moral certainty of perform- 

Foibles — "I shall never attempt to palliate 
my own foibles by exposing the error of 

Vice — "Discourage vice in every shape." 

Variable minds — "Men's minds are as 
variant as their faces." 


Secrecy and despatch — "Secrecy and des- 
patch may prove the soul of success to an 

Disclosures of time — "Time will unfold 
more than prudence ought to disclose." 

As they are — "We must bear up and make 
the best of mankind as they are, since we 
cannot have them as we wish.' 

Right education — "The best means of 
forming a manly, virtuous and happy people, 
will be found in the right education of 
youth. Without this foundation, every other 
means, in my opinion, must fail." 

Enmity — "The most certain way to make 
a man your enemy is to tell him you esteem 
him as such." 

Let your hand give — "Let your hand give 
in proportion to your purse." 

Example — "Example, whether it be good 
or bad, has a powerful influence, and the 
higher in Rank the officer is, who sets it, 
the more striking it is.' 

Misfortunes — "It is our duty to make the 
best of our misfortunes." 

Extremes — "Men are very apt to run into 

Perseverance — "To persevere in one's duty 
and be silent is the best answer to calumny." 

Resentment — "Resentment, reproaches, 
and submission seem to be all that would 
be left to us." 

Misspent hours — "Every hour misspent is 
lost forever, and . . . future years cannot 
compensate for lost days at this period of 
your life. This reflection must show the 
necessity of unremitting application to your 

Two edges — "It has however, like many 
other things in which I have been involved, 
two edges, neither of which can be avoided 
without falling on the other." 

Imagination — "The thinking part of man- 
kind do not form their judgment from 
events; and that . . . equity will ever at- 
tach equal glory to those actions, which 
deserve success, as to those which have been 
crowned with it." 

Always together — "Men, who are always 
together, get tired of each other's company; 
they throw off that restraint, which is neces- 
sary to keep things in proper tune; they say 
and do things, which are personally disgust- 
ing; this begets opposition; opposition begets 
faction; and so it goes on, till business is 
impeded, often at a stand." 

Foresight — "I urged . . . that the man, 
who wished to steer clear of shelves and 
rocks, must know where they lay." 

Golden Rule — "It is a maxim with me not 
to ask what, under similar circumstances, I 
would not grant." 

Fruit of vanity — "There is no restraining 
men's tongues or pens, when charged with 
a little vanity." 


"In for a penny, in for a pound, is an old 
adage. I am so hackneyed to the touches 
of the painter's pencil, that I am now alto- 

Washington the Man of Mind 


gctlier at their beck; and sit, 'like Patience 
on a monument,' whilst they are delineat- 
ing the lines of my face. It is a proof, 
among many others, of what habit and cus- 
tom can accomplish. At first I was as 
impatient at the request, and as restive under 
the operation, as a colt is of the saddle. The 
next time I submitted very reluctantly, but 
with less flouncing. Now, no dray-horse 
moves more readily to his thill than I to the 
painter's chair. It may easily be conceived, 
therefore, that I yielded a ready obedience to 
your request and to the views of Mr. Pine." 


Providence — "The determinations of 
Providence are always wise, often inscru- 
table; and, though its decrees appear to bear 
hard upon us at times, is nevertheless meant 
for gracious purposes." 

Protection of the Almighty — "I consider 
it an indispensable duty to close this last 
solemn act of my official life, by commend- 
ing the Interests of our dearest country to 
the protection of Almighty God, and those 
who have the superintendence of them to his 
holy keeping." 

Vital religion — "I shall always strive to 
be a faithful and impartial patron of genuine 
vital religion." 

God — "It is impossible to reason without 
arriving at a Supreme Being." 

Religion and government — "True religion 
affords government its surest support." 

Conscience — "Conscience again seldom 
comes to a man's aid while he is in the 
zenith of health, and revelling in pomp and 
luxury upon illgotten spoils. It is generally 
the last act of his life, and comes too late 
to be of much service to others here, or to 
himself hereafter." 

Chinch going — "That the Troops may 
have an opportunity of attending public 
worship, as well as take some rest after the 
great fatigue they have gone through; the 
General in future excuses them from fa- 
tigue duty on Sunday (except at the Ship 
Yards, or special occasions) until further 


True friendship — "True friendship is a 
plant of slow growth; to be sincere, there 
must be a congeniality of temper and pur- 

Company — "The Company, in which you 
will improve most, will be least expensive 
to you." 

Bad company v. solitude — "It is better to 
be alone than in bad company." 

Courteous to all, intimate with few — "Be 
courteous to all, but intimate with few; 
and let those few be well tried before you 
give them your confidence." 

Praise from a good friend — "Although the 
friendship of your father may oblige him to 
see some things through too partial a 
medium, yet the indulgent manner in which 
he is pleased to express himself respecting 
me is indeed very pleasing; for nothing in 
human life can afford a liberal mind more 

rational and exquisite satisfaction, than the 
approbation of a wise, a great, and virtuous 

Correspondence — "To correspond with 
those I love is one of my highest gratifi- 

Relieving anxious friends — "I shall ever be 
happv to relieve the anxiety of parted 

Absence and friendship — "The friendship 
I have conceived will not be impaired by 


Justice — "The due administration of 
justice is the firmest pillar of good govern- 

Thinking — "From thinking proceeds 
speaking, thence to acting is often but a 
single step. But how irrevocable and tre- 

Public support — "The voice of mankind 
is with me." 

Factions — "It is also most devoutly to be 
wished, that faction was at an end, and that 
those, to whom every thing dear and valu- 
able is entrusted, would lay aside party views 
and return to first principles. Happy, 
happy, thrice happy country, if such was 
the government of it! But, alas, we are not 
to expect that the path will be strowed with 
flowers. That great and good Being, who 
rules the Universe, has disposed matters 
otherwise, and for wise purposes I am per- 

Danger in congested population — "The 
tumultous populace of large cities are ever 
to be dreaded." 


Liberty — "Liberty, when it begins to take 
root, is a plant of rapid growth." 

Lives, liberties, and properties — "Let us 
have one [government] by which our lives, 
liberties and properties will be secured." 

Let your heart feel — "Let your heart feel 
for the afflictions and distresses of every 

Reply to a proposal to abandon the patriot 
cause — "I yesterday, through the hands of 
Mrs. Ferguson of Graham Park, received a 
letter of a very curious and extraordinary 
nature, from Mr. Duche, which I have 
thought proper to transmit to Congress. To 
this ridiculous, illiberal performance, I made 
a short replv, by desiring the bearer of it, 
if she should hereafter by any accident meet 
Mr. Duche, to tell him I should have re- 
turned it unopened, if I had had any idea 
of the contents; observing at the same time, 
that I highly disapprove the intercourse she 
seemed to have been carrying on, and ex- 
pected it would be discontinued. Notwith- 
standing the author's assertion, I cannot but 
suspect that the measure did not originate 
with him; and that he was induced to it by 
the hope of establishing his interest and 
peace more effectually with the enemy." 

Estimation of one's country — "To stand 
well in the estimation of one's country is a 

happiness, that no rational creature can be 
insensible of." 

Gray and almost blind — "Gentlemen, you 
will permit me to put on my spectacles, for 
I have not only grown gray, but almost 
blind, in the service of my country." 

Recognizing difficulties — "While we do 
not underrate difficulties on one hand, we 
should not overrate them on the other; nor 
discourage ourselves from a very important 
undertaking by obstacles, which are to be 

Basis for prosperity — "Nothing but har- 
mony, honesty, industry, and frugality are 
necessary to make us a great and happy 

Pro Patria — "The welfare of the country 
is the great object to which our cares and 
efforts ought to be directed." 

Love of country — "The love of my coun- 
try will be the ruling influence of my con- 


Constitutional power — "The power, under 
the Constitution, will always be in the 

Nepotism — "My political conduct in 
nominations, even if I were uninfluenced by 
principle, must be exceedingly circumspect 
and proof against just criticism; for . . . 
no slip will pass unnoticed, that can be im- 
proved into a supposed partiality for friends 
or relations." 

Influence — "Influence is no government." 

Principles for a Burgess — "You have, I 
find, broke the ice. The only advice I will 
offer to you on the occasion (if you have a 
mind to command the attention of the 
House,) is to speak seldom, but to important 
subjects, except such as particularly relate 
to your constituents; and, in the former 
case, make yourself perfectly master of the 
subject. Never exceed a decent warmth, 
and submit your sentiments with diffidence. 
A dictatorial stile, though it may carry con- 
viction, is always accompanied with dis- 


Plea for regular troops — "An army formed 
of good officers moves like clockwork; but 
there is no situation upon earth less enviable, 
nor more distressing, than that person's, who 
is at the head of troops which are regardless 
of order and discipline, and who are unpro- 
vided with almost every necessary. In a 
word, the difficulties, which have for ever 
surrounded me since I have been in the serv- 
ice, and kept my mind constantly upon the 
stretch, the wounds, which my feelings as 
an officer have received by a thousand things, 
which have happened contrary to my expec- 
tation and wishes; . . . induces ... a 
thorough conviction in my mind, that it 
will be impossible, unless there is a thorough 
change in our military system, to give satis- 
faction to the public." 

Preparedness — "To be prepared for war is 
one of the most effectual means of preserving 


Honor to George Washington 

Courage — "We must not despair; the 
game is yet in our own hands; to play it 
well is all we have to do." 

Earning liberty — "Remember, officers and 
soldiers, that you are fighting for the bless- 
ings of liberty." 

Cruelty to war animals — "Could the poor 
horses tell their tale, it would be a strain 
still more lamentable." 


Desire for peace — "I pray devoutly that 
we may both witness, and that shortly, the 
return of peace." 

Cultivating peace — "My policy has been 
to cultivate peace with all men." 

Inglorious peace — "A patched-up in- 
glorious peace, after all the toil, blood, and 
treasure we have spent." 

The clock — " . . . lamenting . . . the fatal 
policy ... of the States of employing their 
ablest men at home . . . compare ... to 
... a clock . . . the smaller parts of 
which they are endeavoring to put in fine 
order without considering how useless . . . 
unless the great Wheel, . . . which is to set 
the whole in motion is also well attended to." 

The Confederation — "Today one nation, 
tomorrow thirteen." 

Downfall imminent — "If no change comes 
about our downfall is as plain as A B C." 

Release — "The scene is at last closed. I 
feel myself eased of a load of public care." 

War a plague to mankind — "As the com- 
plexion of European politics seems now . . . 
my first wish is to see this plague to man- 
kind banished from off the earth, and the 
sons and daughters of this world employed 
in more pleasing and innocent amusements, 
than in preparing implements and exercising 
them for the destruction of mankind." 

Sea power — "To an active external com- 
merce the protection of a naval force is 

Academic, Municipal, and Fraternal 
held by George Washin) 

1752, November 4 — Entered Fredericksburg 
Lodge of Freemasons (though a 
minor) . 

1774, June 15 — Society for Promoting Use- 
ful Knowledge, attends a meeting at 

1776, April 3— Harvard Degree of LL.D. 

1780, January 19 — American Philosophical 

Society at Philadelphia, elected 
member; accepts, February 1 5 : 
certificate is dated March 22. 

1781, January 31 — American Academy of 

Arts and Sciences at Boston, elected 

honorary member. 
April 26— Yale Degree of LL.D.; 

diploma is dated September 12. 
December 17 — Society of the Friendly 

Sons of St. Patrick at Philadelphia, 

adopted member. 

1782, June 27 — Freedom of the City of Al- 

bany, N. Y. 

1783, June 19 — President - General of the 

Society of the Cincinnati; continued 
in office through reelection rest of 

July 4 — University of Pennsylvania 

Degree of LL.D. 
November 27 — Marine Society of New 

York, honorary member; certificate 

is dated November 28. 

1784, January 13 — Charleston (S. C.) Li- 

brary Society, honorary member. 

May — Member of the Board of Visi- 
tors and Governors of Washington 
College, Chestertown, Md., which, 
with his consent, was named after 
him in 1782. 

June 24 — Honorary member of Alex- 
andria Lodge of Freemasons. 

December 2 — Freedom of the City of 
New York. 

1785, July 4 — Philadelphia Society for the 

Promoting of Agriculture, honorary 
November — South Carolina Society 
for Promoting and Improving Agri- 
culture and Other Rural Concerns, 
honorary member. 

December 17 — Trustee of proposed 

Alexandria Academy, attends meet- 
ing. Academy incorporated in 
1786, with Washington named as a 
trustee until the first annual elec- 
tion by the supporters of the 

1788, January 18 — Chancellor of William 

and Mary College, date of vote of 
Visitors and Governors in convoca- 
tion; honorary life position. 

April 28 — Appointed first Master in 
charter of new Lodge of Freemasons 
in Alexandria. 

December 20 — Elected Master of the 
Alexandria Lodge. 

1789, March 7 — Honorary member of Hol- 

land Lodge of Freemasons, New 
York City. 
June 24 — Washington College Degree 
of LL.D. 

1790, September 2 — Brown Degree of LL.D. 
1795, March 2 5 — Board of Agriculture of 

Great Britain, foreign honorary 

Selected Authorities 

Coolidge, Calvin — Birth of George Wash- 
ington (address, February 22, 1927). 
Washington, Government Printing Office, 

Coolidge, Calvin, "Washington and Edu- 
cation"; in National Education Associa- 
tion, Proceedings, 1926, p. 706. 

Custis, George Washington Parke — 
Recollections and Private Memoirs of 
Washington. Philadelphia, Flint, 1859. 
(Other eds.) 

Evans, Lawrence B., ed. — Writings of 
George Washington. New York, Putnam, 

Eliot, Charles William — Four American 
Leaders. Boston, American Unitarian As- 
sociation, 1906. 

Ford, Paul Leicester — True George Wash- 
ington. Lippincott, 1896. 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — George Washington 
(American Statesmen, Library ed.). 2 

vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 

(Especially Vol. II, ch. vii.) 
Mitchell, Silas Weir — Washington in his 

Letters. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1903. 
Osborn, Lucretia Perry, ed. — Washington 

speaks for Himself. New York, Scribner, 

Parton, James, ed. — Words of Washing- 
ton. Boston, Osgood, 1872. 
Penniman, James Hosmer — Washington 

as a Man of Letters. 1918. 

Washington the Man of Mind 


Potter, Eliphalet Nott — Washington a 
Model in his Library and Life. New York, 
Young, 1895. 

Rush, Richard — Washington in Domestic 
Life. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 18 57. 

Sayings of Washington; the Best of his Wit 
and Wisdom. Philadelphia, Winston, 

Schroder, John F., ed. — Maxims of Wash- 
ington; Political, Social, Moral, and Re- 

ligious. New York, Appleton, 185 5. (Also 
a reprint.) 

Toner, Joseph M. — "Some Account of 
George Washington's Library and Manu- 
script Records"; in American Historical 
Association, Annual Report for 1892, p. 

Washington, George — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick. 4 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
John C. Fitzpatrick. Washington, U. S. 
George Washington Bicentennial Com- 
mission, 1931 — . 

Wister, Owen — Seven Ages of Washington. 
New York, Macmillan, 1907. 


George Washington 

Hondon Statue, Capitol, Richmond, Va. 

Pamphlet Number Three 

Tributes to Washington 

By Albert Besheell Hart 

Part I 
Personal Appearance (1759*1799) 

George Washington 

From the Portrait by Wertmueller 


|T was not necessary to announce 
his name, for his peculiar appear- 

I ance, his firm forehead, Roman 
nose, and a projection of the 
lower jaw, his height and figure, could 
not be mistaken by any one who had seen a 
full-length picture of him, and yet no picture 
accurately resembled him in the minute 
traits of his person. His features, however, 
were so marked by prominent characteris- 
tics, which appear in all likenesses of him, 
that a stranger could not be mistaken in the 
man; he was remarkably dignified in his 
manners, and had an air of benignity over 
his features which his visitant did not ex- 
pect, being rather prepared for sternness of 

countenance. . . . his smile was extraordi- 
narily attractive. It was observed to me 
that there was an expression in Washington's 
face that no painter had succeeded in taking. 
It struck me no man could be better formed 
for command. A stature of six feet, a ro- 
bust, but well-proportioned frame, calcu- 
lated to sustain fatigue, without that heavi- 
ness which generally attends great muscular 
strength, and abates active exertion, dis- 
plaved bodily power of no mean standard. 
A light eye and full — the very eye of genius 
and reflection rather than of blind passion- 
ate impulse. His nose appeared thick, and 
though it befitted his other features, was too 
coarsely and strongly formed to be the hand- 
somest of its class. His mouth was like no 

other that I ever saw; the lips firm and the 
under jaw seeming to grasp the upper with 
force, as if its muscles were in full action 
when he sat still." 

"It was in the month of November, 1798, 
I first beheld the Father of his Country. It 
was very cold, the northwest wind blowing 
hard down the Potomac, at Georgetown, D. 
C. A troop of light-horse from Alexandria 
escorted him to the western bank of the 
river. The waves ran high and the boat 
which brought him over seemed to labor 
considerably. Several thousand people 
greeted his arrival with swelling hearts and 
joyful countenances; the military were 
drawn up in a long line to receive him; the 
officers, dressed in regimentals, did him 
homage. I was so fortunate as to walk by 
his side, and had a full view of him. Al- 
though only about ten years of age, the im- 
pression his person and manner then made 
on me is now perfectly revived. He was 
six feet one inch high, broad and athletic, 
with very large limbs, entirely erect and 
without the slightest tendency to stooping; 
his hair was white, and tied with a silk 
string, his countenance lofty, masculine, and 
contemplative; his eye light gray. He was 
dressed in the clothes of a citizen, and over 
these a blue surtout of the finest cloth. His 
weight must have been two hundred and 
thirty pounds, with no superfluous flesh, all 
was bone and sinew, and he walked like a 
soldier. Whoever has seen in the Patent 
Office at Washington, the dress he wore when 
resigning his commission as commander-in- 
chief, in December, 1783, at once perceives 
how large and magnificent was his frame. 
During the parade, something at a distance 
suddenly attracted his attention; his eye was 
instantaneously lighted up as with the light- 
ning's flash. At this moment I see its mar- 
vellous animation, its glowing fire, exhibit- 
ing strong passion, controlled by deliberate 

"In the summer of 1799 I again saw the 
chief. He rode a purely white horse, seven- 
teen hands high, well proportioned, of high 
spirit; he almost seemed conscious that he 
bore on his back the Father of his Country. 
He reminded me of the war-horse whose 
neck is clothed with thunder. I have seen 
some highly-accomplished riders, but not one 
of them approached Washington; he was 
perfect in this respect. Behind him, at the 
distance of perhaps forty yards, came Billy 
Lee, his body-servant, who had perilled his 


Tributes to Washington 


life in many a field, beginning on the heights 
of Boston, in 1775, and ending in 1781, when 
Cornwallis surrendered, and the captive 
army, with unexpressible chagrin, laid down 
their arms at Yorktown. Billy rode a cream- 
colored horse, of the finest form, and his old 
Revolutionary cocked hat indicated that its 
owner had often heard the roar of cannon 
and small arms, and had encountered many 
trying scenes. Billy was a dark mulatto. 
His master speaks highly of him in his will, 
and provides for his support." 

JOHN BELL (1779) 

"General Washington is now in the forty- 
seventh year of his age; he is a tall well- 
made man, rather large boned, and has a tol- 
erably genteel address; his features are manly 
and bold, his eyes of a bluish cast and very 
lively; his hair a deep brown, his face rather 
long and marked with the small pox; his 
complexion sun-burnt and without much 
colour, and his countenance sensible, com- 
posed, and thoughtful; there is a remarkable 
air of dignity about him, with a striking de- 
gree of gracefulness." 


"You have often heard me blame M. 
Chastellux for putting too much sprightliness 
in the character he has drawn of this gen- 
eral. To give pretensions to the portrait of 
a man who has none is truly absurd. The 
General's goodness appears in his looks. 
They have nothing of that brilliancy which 
his officers found in them when he was at 
the head of his army; but in conversation 
they become animated. He has no character- 
istic traits in his figure, and this has rendered 
it always so difficult to describe it; there are 
few portraits which resemble him. All his 
answers are pertinent; he shows the utmost 
reserve, and is very diffident; but, at the 
same time, he is firm and unchangeable in 
whatever he undertakes. His modesty must 
be very astonishing, especially to a French- 


"General Washington came to see M. de 
Rochambeau. Notified of his approach, we 
mounted our horses and went out to meet 
him. He received us with that affability 
which is natural to him and depicted on his 
countenance. He is a very fine looking man, 
but did not surprise me as much as I ex- 
pected from the descriptions I had heard of 
him. His physiognomy is noble in the 
highest degree, and his manners are those of 
one perfectly accustomed to society, quite a 
rare thing certainly in America." 


"General Washington is now about forty- 
nine years of age. He is tall, nobly built and 
very well proportioned. His face is much 
more agreeable than represented in his por- 
trait. He must have been much handsomer 
three years ago, and although the gentlemen 

who have remained with him during all 
that time say that he seems to have grown 
much older, it is not to be denied that the 
general is still as fresh and active as a young 


"In speaking of this perfect whole of 
which General Washington furnishes the 
idea, I have not excluded exterior form. His 
stature is noble and lofty, he is well made, 
and exactly proportionate; his physiognomy 
mild and agreeable, but such as to render it 
impossible to speak particularly of any of his 
features, so that in quitting him you have 
only the recollection of a fine face. He has 
neither a grave nor a familiar face, his brow 
is sometimes marked with thought, but 
never with inquietude; in inspiring respect 
he inspires confidence, and his smile is al- 
ways the smile of benevolence." 

CUSTIS (1826) 

"General Washington, in the prime of life, 
stood six feet two inches, and measured pre- 
cisely six feet when attired for the grave. 
From the period of the Revolution, there was 
an evident bending in that frame so passing 
straight before, but the stoop is attributable 
rather to the care and toils of that arduous 
contest than to age; for his step was firm, 
and his carriage noble and commanding, long 
after the time when the physical properties 
of man are supposed to be in the wane. 

"To a majestic height, was added corre- 
spondent breadth and firmness, and his whole 
person was so cast in nature's finest mould 
as to resemble the classic remains of ancient 
statuary, where all the parts contribute to 
the purity and perfection of the whole. 

"The power of Washington's arm was dis- 
played in several memorable instances: in his 
throwing a stone from the bed of the stream 
to the top of the Natural Bridge; another 
over the Palisades into the Hudson, and yet 
another across the Rappahannock, at Freder- 
icksburg. Of the article with which he 
spanned this bold and navigable stream, there 
are various accounts. We are assured that 
it was a piece of slate, fashioned to about the 
size and shape of a dollar, and which, sent 
by an arm so strong, not only spanned the 
river, but took the ground at least thirty 
yards on the other side. Numbers have since 
tried this feat, but none have cleared the 


"The General is about six feet high, per- 
fectly straight and well made; rather inclined 
to be lusty. His eyes are full and blue and 
seem to express an air of gravity. His nose 
inclines to the aquiline; his mouth is small; 
his teeth are vet good and his cheeks indicate 
perfect health. His forehead is a noble one 
and he wears his hair turned back, without 
curls and quite in the officer's style, and tyed 
in a long queue behind. Altogether he makes 
a most noble, respectable appearance, and I 
reallv think him the first man in the world. 

. . . When I was first introduced to him he 
was neatly dressed in a plain blue coat, white 
cassimir waistcoat, and black breeches and 
boots, as he came from his farm. . . . The 
General came in again, with his hair neatly 
powdered, a clean shirt on, a new plain drab 
coat, white waistcoat and white silk stock- 


"The person of Washington, always 
graceful, dignified and commanding, showed 
to peculiar advantage when mounted; it ex- 
hibited, indeed, the very beau ideal of a per- 
fect cavalier. The good Lafayette, during 
his last visit to America, delighted to dis- 
course of the 'times that tried men's souls.' 
From the venerated friend of our country 
we derived a most graphic description of 
Washington and the field of battle. La- 
fayette said, 'At Monmouth I commanded a 
division, and, it may be supposed I was pretty 
well occupied; still I took time, amid the 
roar and confusion of the conflict, to ad- 
mire our beloved chief, who, mounted on a 
splendid charger, rode along the ranks amid 
the shouts of the soldiers cheering them by 
his voice and example, and restoring to our 
standard the fortunes of the fight. I thought 
then, as now,' continued Lafayette, 'that 
never had I beheld so superb a man'." 


"In stature about six feet, with an unex- 
ceptionable make, but lax appearance. His 
frame would seem to want filling up. His 
motions rather slow than lively, though he 
showed no signs of having suffered by gout 
or rheumatism. His complexion pale, nay, 
almost cadaverous. His voice hollow and in- 
distinct, owing, as I believe, to artificial 
teeth before his upper jaw, which occasions 
a flatness." 


"Though distrusting my ability to give an 
adequate account of the personal appearance 
of Col. George Washington, late commander 
of the Virginia Provincial troops, I shall, as 
you request, attempt the portraiture. He 
may be described as being as straight as an 
Indian, measuring six feet two inches in his 
stockings, and weighing 175 pounds, when 
he took his seat in the House of Burgesses in 
1759. His frame is padded with well-de- 
veloped muscles, indicating great strength. 
His bones and joints are large, as are his 
hands and feet. He is wide shouldered, but 
not a deep or round chest, but is broad 
across the hips, and has rather long legs and 
arms. His head is well shaped though not 
large, but is gracefully poised on a superb 
neck. A large and straight rather than a 
prominent nose; blue-gray penetrating eyes, 
which are widely separated, and overhung by 
a heavy brow. His face is long rather than 
broad, with high, round cheek-bones, and 
terminates in a good firm chin. He has a 
clear though rather colorless pale skin, which 
burns with the sun. A pleasing, benevolent. 


Honor to George Washington 

though commanding countenance, dark 
brown hair, which he wears in a cue. 

"His mouth is large and generally firmly 
closed, but which from time to time dis- 
closes some defective teeth. His features are 
regular and placid, with all the muscles of 
his face under perfect control, though flexible 
and expressive of deep feeling when moved 
by emotions. In conversation he looks you 
full in the face, is deliberate, deferential and 
engaging. His voice is agreeable rather than 
strong. His movements and gestures are 
graceful, his walk majestic, and he is a 
splendid horseman." 


"General Washington in his person was 
tall, upright, and well made; in his manner 
easy and unaffected. His eyes were of a 
bluish cast, not prominent, indicative of deep 
thoughtfulness, and when in action, on great 
occasions remarkably lively. His features 
strong, manly, and commanding; his temper 
reserved and serious; his countenance grave, 
composed, and sensible. There was in his 
whole appearance an unusual dignity and 
gracefulness which at once secured him pro- 
found respect, and cordial esteem. He 
seemed born to command his fellow men." 

"Tall and noble stature, well proportioned, 
a fine, cheerful, open countenance, a simple 
and modest carriage; and his whole mien has 
something in it that interests the French, the 
Americans, and even enemies themselves in 
his favor." 


"The personal appearance of our Com- 
mander in Chief, is that of the perfect 
gentleman and accomplished warrior. He is 
remarkably tall, full six feet, erect and well 
proportioned. The strength and proportion 
of his joints and muscles, appear to be com- 
mensurate with the preeminent powers of his 
mind. The serenity of his countenance, and 
majestic gracefulness of his deportment, im- 
part a strong impression of that dignity and 
grandeur, which are his peculiar characterist- 
ics, and no one can stand in his presence 

without feeling the ascendancy of his mind, 
and associating with his countenance the idea 
of wisdom, philanthropy, magnanimity, and 
patriotism. There is a fine symmetry in the 
features of his face indicative of a benign and 
dignified spirit. His nose is strait, and his 
eyes inclined to blue. He wears his hair in a 
becoming cue, and from his forehead it is 
turned back and powdered in a manner 
which adds to the military air of his appear- 
ance. He displays a native gravity, but de- 
void of all appearance of ostentation. His 
uniform dress is a blue coat, with two bril- 
liant epaulettes, buff colored under clothes, 
and a three cornered hat with a black cock- 
ade. He is constantly equipped with an ele- 
gant small sword, boots and spurs, in readi- 
ness to mount his noble charger." 

"Yesterday I accompanied Major Cavil to 
headquarters, and had the honor of being 
numbered among the guests at the table of 
his Excellency, with his lady, ... It is 
natural to view with keen attention the 
countenance of an illustrious man, with a 
secret hope of discovering in his features 
some peculiar traces of excellence, which 
distinguishes him from and elevates him 
above his fellow mortals. These expectations 
are realized in a peculiar manner, in viewing 
the person of General Washington. His tall 
and noble and just proportions, cheerful open 
countenance, simple and modest deportment, 
are all calculated to interest every beholder in 
his favor, and to command veneration and 
respect. He is feared even when silent, and 
beloved even while we are unconscious of the 
motive. ... In conversation, his Excel- 
lency's expressive countenance is peculiarly 
interesting and pleasing; a placid smile is 
frequently observed on his lips, but a loud 
laugh, it is said, seldom if ever escapes him. 
He is polite and attentive to each individual 
at table, and retires after the compliment of 
a few glasses. 

LEGATION (1792) 

"His person is tall and sufficiently grace- 
ful; his face well formed, his complexion 

rather pale, with a mild philosophic gravity 
in the expression of it. In his air and man- 
ner he displays much natural dignity; in his 
address he is cold, reserved, and even phleg- 
matic, though without the least appearance 
of haughtiness or ill-nature; it is the effect, 
I imagine, of constitutional diffidence. That 
caution and circumspection which form so 
striking and well known a feature in his mili- 
tary, and indeed, in his political character, 
is very strongly marked in his countenance, 
for his eyes retire inward (do you under- 
stand me?) and have nothing of fire of 
animation or openness in their expression." 


"The President in his person is tall and 
thin, but exact; rather of an engaging than 
a dignified presence. He appears very 
thoughtful, is slow in delivering himself, 
which occasions some to conclude him re- 
served, but it is rather, I apprehend, the ef- 
fect of much thinking and reflection, for 
there is great appearance to me of affability 
and accommodation. He was at this time 
in his sixty-third year . . . but he has very 
little the appearance of age, having been all 
his life long so exceeding temperate." 

ISAAC WELD (1797) 

"His chest is full; and his limbs, though 
rather slender, well shaped and muscular. 
His head is small, in which respect he re- 
sembles the make of a great number of his 
countrymen. His eyes are of a light grey 
colour; and in proportion to the length of 
his face, his nose is long. Mr. Stewart, the 
eminent portrait painter, told me, that 
there were features in his face totally dif- 
ferent from what he ever observed in that 
of any other human being; the sockets for 
the eyes, for instance, are larger than what 
he ever met with before, and the upper part 
of the nose broader. All his features, he ob- 
served, were indicative of the strongest and 
most ungovernable passions, and had he been 
born in the forests, it was his opinion that he 
would have been the fiercest man among the 
savage tribes." 

Part II 

Character and Service 

(1775, 1776) 

"I can now inform you that the Congress 
have made choice of the modest and virtuous, 
the amiable, generous and brave George 
Washington, Esquire to be General of the 
American army, and that he is to repair, as 
soon as possible, to the camp before Boston. 
This appointment will have a great effect in 

cementing and securing the union of these 

"There is something charming to me in 
the conduct of Washington. A gentleman 
of one of the first fortunes upon the conti- 
nent, leaving his delicious retirement, his 
family and friends, sacrificing his ease, and 
hazarding all in the cause of his country! 
His views are noble and disinterested. He 
declared, when he accepted the mighty trust, 

that he would lay before us an exact account 
of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for 

"I congratulate you, Sir, as well as all the 
Friends of Mankind on the Reduction of 
Boston, an event which appeared to me of so 
great and decisive importance, that the next 
Morning after the Arrival of the News, I 
did myself the honour to move, for the 
Thanks of Congress to your Excellency and 

Tributes to Washington 


that a Medal of Gold Should be Struck in 
commemoration of it. Congress have been 
pleased to appoint me, with two other 
Gentlemen to prepare a Device." 

"I have seen him in the days of adversity, 
in some of the scenes of his deepest distress 
and most trying perplexities; I have also at- 
tended him in his highest elevation and most 
prosperous felicity; with uniform admiration 
of his wisdom, moderation, and constancy. 
. . . Malice could never blast his honour, 
and envy made him a singular exception to 
her universal rule. For himself he had lived 
enough, to life and to glory. For his fellow- 
citizens, if their prayers could have been 
answered, he would have been immortal. For 
me, his departure is at a most unfortunate 
moment. . . . His example is now complete, 
and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magis- 
trates, citizens, and men, not only in the 
present age, but in future generations, as 
long as our history shall be read." 


"However his military fame may excite 
the wonder of mankind, it is chiefly by his 
civil magistracy that his example will in- 
struct them. Great generals have arisen in 
all ages of the world, and perhaps most in 
those of despotism and darkness. In times 
of violence and convulsion, they rise by the 
force of the whirlwind, high enough to ride 
in it, and direct the storm. . . . But such a 
Chief Magistrate as Washington appears like 
the pole star in a clear sky, to direct the 
skilful statesman. His presidency will form 
an epoch, and be distinguished as the age of 
Washington. Already it assumes its high 
place in the political region. Like the milky 
way, it whitens along its allotted portion of 
the hemisphere. The latest generations of 
men will survey through the telescope of 

JOHN BELL (1779) 

"He has an excellent understanding with- 
out much quickness; is strictly just, vigilant, 
and generous; an affectionate husband, a 
faithful friend, a father to the deserving sol- 
dier; gentle in his manners, in temper rather 
reserved; a total stranger to religious preju- 
dices, which have so often excited Christians 
of one denomination to cut the throats of 
those of another; in his morals irreproach- 
able; he was never known to exceed the 
bounds of the most rigid temperance; in a 
word, all his friends and acquaintances uni- 
versally allow, that no man ever united in his 
own person a more perfect alliance of the 
virtues of a philosopher with the talents of a 
general. Candour, sincerity, affability, and 
simplicity, seem to be the striking features 
of his character, till an occasion offers of dis- 
playing the more determined bravery and in- 
dependence of spirit. General Washington 
having never been to Europe, could not pos- 
sibly have seen much military service when 
the armies of Britain were sent to subdue 

us; yet still, for a variety of reasons, he was 
by much the most proper man on this conti- 
nent, and probably any where else, to be 
placed at the head of an American army. 
The very high estimation he stood in for in- 
tegrity and honour, his engaging in the cause 
of his country from sentiment and a convic- 
tion of her wrongs, his moderation in poli- 
tics, his extensive property, and his ap- 
proved abilities as a commander, were mo- 
tives which necessarily obliged the choice of 
America to fall upon him." 


"A stranger to profusion, yet generous in 
every instance where liberality was a virtue; 
during the late troubles, his fortune was em- 
ployed in succouring merit, rewarding 
bravery, promoting discipline in the soldiery, 
and subordination to the new established 
government, in the citizens. At a time 
when the calamities incident to a state of 
civil warfare, fell heavy on all ranks, but 
principally on the middle class of his 
countrymen, his beneficence, which seemed 
to shun the public eye, would in all proba- 
bility be lost in oblivion, but for the voice 
of those whom he freed from the accumu- 
lated miseries of famine, sickness and im- 

"In whatever light we view the character 
of this truly great man we are struck with 
fresh cause for esteem and admiration: we 
every moment discover new and shining 
traits of humanity, of wisdom, and disinter- 
ested heroism: we see united in him the dis- 
tinguished virtues of a good citizen, an ex- 
perienced general, an upright senator, and a 
wise politician; we behold him rising su- 
perior to every mean consideration of self- 
love, hazarding his fortunes in the cause of 
freedom, cheerfully submitting to bear the 
name of rebel, and braving an ignominious 
death, to which he would inevitably have 
fallen a sacrifice, had Britain triumphed in 
the contest: we behold him furnishing an ex- 
ample the most interesting to humanity, and 
capable of nerving the palsied arm of age, or 
even of cowardise itself . . ." 


"I believe the General is honest, but I 
think him fallible." 


"General Washington will be with You 
soon, possibly by the Time You receive 
This. His Election was unanimous, his ac- 
ceptance of the high Trust, modest and po- 
lite, his Character I need not enlarge on but 
will only say to his honor, that he is said to 
be as fixed and resolute in having his Orders 
on all Occasions executed, as he is cool and 
deliberate, in giving them." 

(1775, 1776) 

"His Excellency, General, has arrived 
amongst us, universally admired. Joy was 
visible on every countenance, and it seemed 

as if the spirit of conquest breathed through 
the whole army. I hope we shall be taught, 
to copy his example, and to prefer the love 
of liberty, in this time of public danger to 
all the soft pleasures of domestic life, and 
support ourselves with manly fortitude 
amidst all the dangers and hardships that at- 
tend a state of war. And I doubt not, under 
the General's wise direction, we shall estab- 
lish such excellent order and strictness of 
discipline as to invite victory to attend him 
wherever he goes." 

"Greater powers must be lodged in the 
hands of the General than he has ever yet 
exercised. ... I can assure you that the 
General will not exceed his powers, though 
he may sacrifice the cause. There never was 
a man that might be more safely trusted, nor 
a time when there was a louder call." 



"The general I always revered and loved 
ever since I knew him, but in this instance 
he rose superior to himself. Every lip 
dwells on his praise, for even his pretended 
friends (for none dare to acknowledge 
themselves his enemies) are obliged to croak 
it forth." 



"The Commander was already become ex- 
tremely unpopular, among almost all ranks, 
from his known dislike to every unlawful 
proceeding; that this unpopularity was daily 
increasing and industriously promoted by 
many leading characters; that his choice of 
unfit and indiscreet persons into his family 
was the pretext, and with some the real mo- 
tive; but the substantial one, a desire to dis- 
place him from the respect and confidence of 
the army, in order to substitute General 

, as the conductor of their efforts 

to obtain justice. Mr. Hamilton said that he 
knew General Washington intimately and 
perfectly; that his extreme reserve, mixed 
sometimes with a degree of asperity of tem- 
per, both of which were said to have in- 
creased of late, had contributed to the de- 
cline of his popularity; but that his virtue, 
his patriotism and firmness, would, it might 
be depended upon, never yield to any dis- 
honorable or disloyal plans into which he 
might be called; that he would suffer himself 
to be cut to pieces." 


"The Congress have appointed George 
Washington, Esqr., General and Commander 
in Chief of the Continental Army. His 
Commission is made out and I shall Sign it 
to morrow. He is a Gentleman you will all 
like. I submit to you the propriety of pro- 
viding a suitable place for his Residence and 
the mode of his Reception. Pray tell Genl. 
Ward of this with mv Respects, and that we 
all Expect to hear that the Military Move- 
ments of the Day of his Arrival will be such 
as to do him and the Commander in Chief 


Honor to George Washington 

great honour. . . . General Washington will 
set out in a few Days. . . . Pray do him 
every honour. By all means have his Com- 
mission read at the head of the whole 


"When Patrick Henry was asked 'whom 
he thought the greatest man in Congress,' he 
replied: 'If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rut- 
ledge of South Carolina is by far the great- 
est orator, but if you speak of solid informa- 
tion and sound judgment, Colonel Washing- 
ton is unquestionably the greatest man on 
that floor.' " 



"His mind was great and powerful, with 
out being of the very first order; his pene- 
tration strong, though not so acute as that of 
a Newton, Bacon or Locke; and as far as he 
saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was 
slow in operation, being little aided by inven- 
tion or imagination, but sure in conclusion. 
Hence the common remark of his officers, of 
the advantage he derived from councils of 
war, where, hearing all suggestions, he se- 
lected whatever was best; and certainly no 
general ever planned his battles more judici- 
ously. But if deranged during the course of 
the action, if any member of his plan was 
dislocated by sudden circumstances, he was 
slow in a readjustment. The consequence 
was, that he often failed in the field, and 
rarely against an enemy in station, as at 
Boston and York. He was incapable of 
fear, meeting personal dangers with the calm- 
est unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature 
in his character was prudence, never acting 
until every circumstance, every considera- 
tion, was maturely weighed; refraining if he 
saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going 
through with his purpose, whatever obstacles 
opposed. His integrity was most pure, his 
justice the most inflexible I have ever 
known, no motives of interest or consan- 
guinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to 
bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every 
sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a 
great man. His temper was naturally irri- 
table and high-toned; but reflection and reso- 
lution had obtained a firm and habitual as- 
cendency over it. If ever, however, it broke 
its bonds, he was most tremendous in his 
wrath. . . . 

"On the whole, his character was, in its 
mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points 
indifferent; and it may truly be said that 
never did nature and fortune combine more 
perfectly to make a man great, and to place 
him in the same constellation with whatever 
worthies have merited from man an ever- 
lasting remembrance. For his was the 
singular destiny and merit of leading the 
armies of his country successfully through 
an arduous war, for the establishment of its 
independence; of conducting its councils 
through the birth of a government, new in 
its forms and principles, until it had settled 

down into a quiet and orderly train; and of 
scrupulously obeying the laws through the 
whole of his career, civil and military, of 
which the history of the world furnishes no 
other example." 


"Will you go with me to the banks of the 
Monongahela, to see your youthful Washing- 
ton, supporting, in the dismal hour of Indian 
victory, the ill fated Braddock; and saving 
by his judgment and his valour; the remains 
of a defeated army, pressed by the conquer- 
ing savage foe? or, when — oppressed 
America nobly resolving to risk her all in 
defense of her violated rights — he was ele- 
vated by the unanimous voice of Congress 
to the command of her armies? . . 

"Who is there that has forgotten the vales 
of Brandywine — the fields of Germantown — 
or the plains of Monmouth? Every where 
present, wants of every kind obstructing, 
numerous and valiant armies encountering, 
himself a host, he assuaged our sufferings, 
limited our privations, and upheld our tot- 
tering Republic. . . . 

"Possessing a clear and penetrating mind, 
a strong and sound judgment, calmness and 
temper for deliberation, with invincible 
firmness and perseverance in resolution ma- 
turely formed, drawing information from 
all, acting for himself, with incorruptible in- 
tegrity and unvarying patriotism: his own 
superiority and the public confidence alike 
marked him as the man designed by heaven 
to lead in the great political as well as mili- 
tary events which have distinguished the era 
of his life. . . . 

"First in war, first in peace, and first in 
the hearts of his countrymen, he was second 
to none in the humble and endearing scenes 
of private life: Pious, just, humane, temper- 
ate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and 
commanding; his example was as edifying to 
all around him as were the effects of that 
example lasting. 

"To his equals he was condescending; to 
his inferiors kind, and to the dear object of 
his effection exemplarily tender: Correct 
throughout, vice shuddered in his presence, 
and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the 
purity of his private character gave efful- 
gence to his public virtues. . . . Such was 
the man for whom our nation mourns." 

OF YALE (1800) 

"Resolute and undejected in misfortunes, 
he rose superior to distresses, and surmounted 
difficulties, which no courage, no constancy, 
but his own, would have resisted. His let- 
ters during his most gloomy prospects, an- 
nounce a hero, conscious of his danger, but 
still deriving a well grounded hope from the 
resources of his own mind. His valor was 
never unequal to his duty or the occasion. 
He attempted things with means that ap- 
peared totally inadequate, and successfully 
prosecuted what he had boldly resolved. He 
was never disheartened bv difficulties, but 

had that vigor of mind, which, instead of 
bending to opposition, rises above it, and 
seems to have a power of controlling even 
fortune itself. His character combined a 
cool and penetrating judgement and prompt 
decision, caution and intrepidity, patience 
and enterprise, generous tenderness and 
compassion, with undaunted heroism. . . . 
"In no situation did Washington appear 
more truly great than at the helm of our 
federal government. Here he displayed an 
astonishing extent and precision of political 
integrity, an incorruptible heart, a constant 
attention to the grand principles of rational 
liberty, and an invariable attachment to his 
country. His genius was equal to the most 
enlarged views, and minute details, of civil 
policy. A vigorous mind, improved by the 
experience and study of mankind, dexterity 
and application in business, a judicious mix- 
ture of liberality and economy. Steadiness 
to pursue his ends, and flexibility to vary his 
means, marked his administration. He guided 
the passions of others, because he was 
master of his own." 


"Our Washington is no more! The Hero, 
the Sage and the Patriot of America — the 
man on whom in times of danger, every eye 
was turned, and all hopes were placed — lives 
now, only in his own great actions, and in 
the hearts of an affectionate and afflicted 
people. . . . 

"More than any other individual, and as 
much as to one individual was possible, has 
he contributed to found this our wide spread- 
ing empire, and to give to the western world 
its independence and its freedom. . . . 

"Having effected the great object for 
which he was placed at the head of our 
armies, we have seen him convert the sword 
into the plowshare, and voluntarily sinking 
the soldier in the citizen. . . . 

"We have seen him once more quit the re- 
tirement he loved, and in a season more 
stormy and tempestuous than war itself, with 
calm and wise determination, pursue the 
true interests of the nation and contribute, 
more than any other could contribute, to the 
establishment of that system of policy which 
will, I trust, yet preserve our peace, our 
honour and our independence." 



"The day finally came when his work was 
finished, and he could be, as he phrased it, 
'translated into a private citizen.' Marshall 
describes the scene as follows: 'At noon, the 
principal officers of the army assembled at 
France's [sic] tavern; soon after which, 
their beloved commander entered the room. 
His emotions were too strong to be con- 
cealed. Filling a glass, he turned to them 
and said, "With a heart full of love and 
gratitude, I now take leave of you: I most 
devoutly wish that your latter days may be 
as prosperous and happy, as your former ones 

Tributes to Washington 


have been glorious and honorable." Having 
drunk, he added: "I cannot come to each of 
you to take my leave; but shall be obliged to 
you, if each of you will come and take me by 
the hand." General Knox, being nearest, 
turned to him. Incapable of utterance, 
Washington grasped his hand, and embraced 
him. In the same affectionate manner he 
took leave of each succeeding officer. In 
every eye was the tear of dignified sensibility, 
and not a word was articulated to interrupt 
the majestic silence, and the tenderness of 
the scene.' " 

"Born to high destinies, he was fashioned 
for them by the hand of nature. His form 
was noble — his port majestic. On his front 
were enthroned the virtues which exalt, and 
those which adorn the human character. So 
dignified his deportment, no man could ap- 
proach him but with respect — none was great 
in his presence. You have all seen him, and 
you all have felt the reverence he inspired. 
. . . His judgement was always clear, be- 
cause his mind was pure. And seldom, if 
ever, will a sound understanding be met in 
the company of a corrupt heart. ... In him 
were the courage of a soldier, the intrepidity 
of a chief, the fortitude of a hero. He had 
given to the impulsions of bravery all the 
calmness of his character, and, if in the 
moment of danger, his manner was dis- 
tinguishable from that of common life, it 
was by superior ease and grace. . . . Know- 
ing how to appreciate the world, its gifts and 
glories, he was truly wise. Wise also in se- 
lecting the objects of his pursuit. And wis; 
in adopting just means to compass honorable 


"Remember, my good Sir, that few men 
can keep their feelings to themselves, and 
that it is necessary for example's sake, that 
all leaders should feel and think boldly in 
order to inspirit others, who look up to them. 
Heaven, no doubt for the noblest purposes, 
has blessed you with a firmness of mind, 
steadiness of countenance, and patience in 
sufferings, that give you infinite advantages 
over other men. This being the case, you 
are not to depend on other people's exertions 
being equal to your own. One mind feeds 
and thrives on misfortunes by finding re- 
sources to get the better of them; another 
sinks under their weight, thinking it im- 
possible to resist; and, as the latter descrip- 
tion probably includes the majority of man- 
kind, we must be cautious of alarming 

"It is hoped posterity will be taught, in 
what manner he transformed an undisci- 
plined body of peasantry into a regular army 
of soldiers. Commentaries on his campaigns 
would undoubtedly be highly interesting and 
instructive to future generations. The con- 
duct of the first campaign, in compelling the 

British troops to abandon Boston by a blood- 
less victory, will merit minute narration. 
But a volume would scarcely contain the 
mortifications he experienced and the hazards 
to which he was exposed in 1776 and 1777, 
in contending against the prowess of Britain, 
with an inadequate force. His good destiny 
and consummate prudence prevented want of 
success from producing want of confidence 
on the part of the public; for want of suc- 
cess is apt to lead to the adoption of pernici- 
ous counsels through the levity of the people 
or the ambition of their demagogues." 


"We congratulate ourselves with equal 
sincerity in beholding you, Sir, in the high 
department which your virtues merited, and 
to which your country unanimously and 
gratefully appointed you. The importance 
of your situation receives additional dignity 
by the veneration your Country possesses for 
your character, and from a confidence that 
every power vested in you by the Constitu- 
tion will be exerted for the happiness and 
prosperity of our country. . . . We have 
just received the happy information of your 
recovery from a disorder which threatened 
your life; a life we may truly say as necessary 
as dear to us: — With grateful hearts we re- 
turn thanks to the great Disposer of events 
for this beneficient mark of his attention in 
preserving you. May it long be shewn in 
continuing you among us, and when the 
awful day comes which is to separate you 
from us, may you receive the reward of those 
virtues, which he only can give." 

AN OFFICER (1777) 

"Our army love their General very much, 
but they have one thing against him, which 
is the little care he takes of himself in any 
action. His personal bravery, and the desire 
he has of animating his troops by example, 
make him fearless of danger. This occasions 
us much uneasiness. But Heaven, which has 
hitherto been his shield, I hope will still con- 
tinue to guard so valuable a life." 


"To the excellency of his virtues I am not 
disposed to set any limits. All his views 
were upright, all his actions just." 


"With patriotic pride, we review the life 
of our Washington, and compare him with 
those of other countries who have been pre- 
eminent in fame. Ancient and modern 
names are diminished before him. Greatness 
and guilt have too often been allied; but his 
fame is whiter than it is brilliant. The de- 
stroyers of nations stood abashed at the ma- 
jesty of his virtue. It reproved the intemp- 
erance of their ambition, and darkened the 
splendor of victory. . . . Let his country- 
men consecrate the memory of the heroic 
General, the patriotic Statesman, and the 

virtuous Sage; let them teach their children 
never to forget that the fruit of his labours 
and his example, are their inheritance." 

COLLEGE (1800) 

"Washington was always equal to himself. 
There was a dignity in the manner in which 
he performed the smallest things. A ma- 
jesty surrounded him that seemed to humble 
those who approached him, at the same time 
that there was a benignity in his manner 
that invited their confidence and esteem. 
His virtues, always elevated and splendid, 
shone only with a milder light by being 
placed in the vale of retirement. He was 
sincere, modest, upright, humane; a friend of 
religion; the idol of his neighbors as well as 
of his country; magnificent in his hospi- 
tality, but plain in his manners, and simple 
in his equipage. . . . 

"His whole character was consistent. 
Equally industrious with his plough as with 
his sword, he esteemed idleness and inutility 
the greatest disgrace of man, whose powers 
attain perfection only by constant and vig- 
orous action, and who is placed by provi- 
dence in so many social relations, only to do 
good. Every thing round him was marked 
with a dignified simplicity. . . . The virtues 
and the talents which, in other instances, are 
divided among many, are combined in him." 


"The following are recollections of Wash- 
ington, derived from repeated opportunities 
of seeing him during the last three years of 
his public life. He was over six feet in stat- 
ure; of strong, bony, muscular frame, 
without fulness of covering, well formed and 
straight. He was a man of most extraordi- 
nary physical strength. In his own house his 
action was calm, deliberate, and dignified, 
without pretension to gracefulness, or pe- 
culiar manner, but merely natural, and such 
as one would think it should be in such a 
man. When walking in the street, his 
movement had not the soldierly air which 
might be expected. His habitual motions 
had been formed before he took command of 
the American armies, in the wars of the in- 
terior, and in the surveying of wilderness 
lands, employments in which grace and ele- 
gance were not likely to be acquired. At the 
age of sixty-five, time had done nothing 
toward bending him out of his natural erect- 
ness. His deportment was invariably grave; 
it was sobriety that stopped short of sad- 
ness. His presence inspired a veneration, and 
a feeling of awe, rarelv experienced in the 
presence of any man. His mode of speaking 
was slow and deliberate, not as though he 
was in search of fine words, but that he 
might utter those only adapted to his pur- 
pose. It was the usage of all persons in good 
society to attend Mrs. Washington's levee 
every Friday evening. He was always pres- 
ent. The young ladies used to throng around 
him, and engage him in conversation. There 
were some of the well-remembered belles of 


Honor to George Washington 

that day who imagined themselves to be 
favorites with him. As these were the only 
opportunities which they had of conversing 
with him, they were disposed to use them. 
One would think, that a gentleman and a 
gallant soldier, if he could ever laugh or 
dress his countenance in smiles, would do so 
when surrounded by young and admiring 
beauties. But this was never so; the coun- 
tenance of Washington never softened; nor 
changed its habitual gravity. One who had 
lived always in his family said, that his man- 
ner in public life was always the same. Be- 
ing asked whether Washington could laugh: 
this person said, that this was a rare occur- 
rence, but one instance was remembered 
when he laughed most heartily at her narra- 
tion of an incident in which she was a party 
concerned; and in which he applauded her 
agency. The late General Cobb, who was 

long a member of his family during the war, 
(and who enjoyed a laugh as much as any 
man could,) said, that he never saw Wash- 
ington laugh, excepting when Colonel 
Scammel (if this was the person) came to 
dine at headquarters. Scammel had a fund 
of ludicrous anecdotes, and a manner of tell- 
ing them, which relaxed even the gravity of 
the commander-in-chief." 

TILGHMAN (1777) 

"If it please God to spare the life of the 
honestest man that I believe ever adorned 
human nature, I have no doubt of . . . 
[freedom]. I think I know the sentiments 
of his heart, and in prosperity and adversity 
I never knew him utter a wish or drop an 
expression that did not tend to the good of 

his country, regardless of his own interest. 
He is blessed wherever he goes, for the tory 
is protected in person and property equally 
with the whig; and indeed I often think 
more, for it is his maxim to convert by good 
usage and not by severity." 


"The General Assembly of the Common- 
wealth of Virginia have caused this statue to 
be erected as a Monument of Affection and 
Gratitude to George Washington, who, unit- 
ing to the Endowments of the Hero the 
Vitrues of the Patriot, and exerting both in 
establishing the Liberties of his Country, has 
rendered his Name dear to his Fellow Citi- 
zens, and given the World an immortal Ex- 
ample of true Glory." 

Part III 
World Statins 

LONDON" (1779) 

"General Washington, altho' advanced in 
years, is remarkably healthy, takes a great 
deal of exercise, and is very fond of riding 
on a favorite white horse; he is very reserved, 
and loves retirement. When out of camp 
he has only a single servant attending him, 
and when he returns within the lines a few 
of the light horse escort him to his tent. 
When he has any great object in view he 
sends for a few of the officers of whose 
abilities he has a high opinion, and states 
his present plan among half a dozen others, 
to all which they give their separate judg- 
ments: by these means he gets all their 
opinions, without divulging his intentions. 
He has no tincture of pride, and will often 
converse with a centinel with more freedom 
than he would with a general officer. He 
is very shy and reserved to foreigners, altho' 
they have letters of recommendation, from 
the Congress. He punishes neglect of duty 
with great severity, but is very tender and 
indulgent to recruits until they learn the 
articles of war and their exercise perfectly. 
He has a great antipathy to spies, although 
he employs them himself, and has an utter 
aversion to all Indians. He regularly at- 
tends divine service in his tent every morn- 
ing and evening, and seems very fervent 
in his prayers. He is so tender-hearted, that 
no soldiers must be flogged nigh his tent, 
or if he is walking in the camp, and sees 
a man tied to the halberds, he will either 
order him to be taken down, or walk an- 
other way to avoid his sight. He has made 
the art of war his particular study; his 
plans are in general good and well digested; 

he is particularly careful always of securing 
a retreat, but his chief qualifications are 
steadiness, perseverence, and secrecy; any 
act of bravery he is sure to reward, and 
make a short eulogium on the occasion to 
the person and his fellow soldiers (if it be 
a soldier) in the ranks. He is humane to 
the prisoners who fall into his hands, and 
orders everything necessary for their relief. 
He is very temperate in his diet, and the 
only luxury he indulges himself in, is a 
few glasses of punch after supper." 


"This day General Washington, who was 
expected, arrived [at Newport] about two 
o'clock. He first went to the Due de 
Burgoyne, where all our generals were. He 
then landed; all the troops were under arms; 
I was presented to him. His face is hand- 
some, noble and mild. He is tall (at the 
least, five feet, eight inches). In the eve- 
ning, I was at supper with him. I mark as 
a fortunate day, that in which I have been 
able to behold a man so truly great." 



"He shows the utmost reserve, and is very 
diffident; but, at the same time, he is firm 
and unchangeable in whatever he under- 
takes. His modesty must be very astonish- 
ing, especially to a Frenchman. He speaks 
of the American war as if he had not di- 
rected it; and of his victories with an indif- 
ference which strangers even would not 
affect. I never saw him divest himself of 
that coolness by which he is characterized, 
and become warm but when speaking of the 
present state of America. . . . He spoke to 

me of M. La Fayette with tenderness. He 
regarded him as his son; and foresaw with 
a joy mixed with anxiety, the part he was 
about to play in the revolution preparing 
in France." 


"His physiognomy is mild and open. His 
accost cold although polite. His pensive 
eyes seem more attentive than sparkling; but 
their expression is benevolent, noble and 
self-possessed. In his private conduct, he 
preserves that polite and attentive good 
breeding which satisfies everybody, and that 
dignified reserve which offends no one. He 
is a foe to ostentation and to vain-glory. 
His temper is always even. He has never 
testified the least humor. Modest even to 
humility, he does not seem to estimate him- 
self at his true worth. He receives with 
perfect grace all the homages which are 
paid him, but he evades rather than seeks 
them. . . . 

"Mr. Washington's first military services 
were against the French in the War for 
Canada. He had no opportunity for distin- 
guishing himself, and after the defeat of 
Braddock, the war having crossed the river 
St. Lawrence, and the Virginia militia of 
which he was a Colonel having been sent 
home, he was not kept in active service; 
whereupon he retired to his plantation where 
he lived like a philosopher. 

"His estate was quite distant from the 
seat of the English government, the real hot- 
bed of the insurrection; and his wise char- 
acter withheld him still further from mixing 
in its movements, so that he had but little 
share in the first troubles. 

"On the breaking out of hostilities with 

Tributes to Washington 


the mother-country, every body wished a 
chief who joined a profound sagacity to the 
advantage of having had military experi- 
ence. All eyes turned toward Washington, 
and he was unanimously called to the com- 
mand of the army. The course of events 
justified the choice. Never was there a man 
better fitted to command the Americans, 
and his conduct throughout developed the 
greatest foresight, steadiness and wisdom." 

LORD BYRON (1818-1821) 

"Can tyrants but by tyrants conquer 'd be, 
And freedom find no champion and no 
Such as Columbia saw arise when she 
Sprung forth a Pallas, arm'd and unde- 
Or must such minds be nourish'd in the 
Deep in the unpruned forest 'midst the 
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled 
On infant Washington? Has Earth no 
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no 
such shore?" 

"Not so Leonidas and Washington, 

Whose every battle-field is holy ground, 
Which breathes of nations saved, not 
worlds undone. 
How sweetly on the ear such echoes 
While the mere victor's may appal or stun 
The servile and the vain, such names 
will be 
A watchword till the future shall be free." 

"Great men have always scorn'd great 
recompenses; . . . 
George Washington had thanks and 
nought beside, 
Except the all-cloudless glory (which few 
men's is) 
To free his country." 

"While Franklin's quiet memory climbs to 
Calming the lightning which he thence 
had riven, 
Or drawing from the no less kindled earth 
Freedom and peace to that which boasts 
his birth; 
While Washington's a watchword, such as 
Shall sink while there's an echo left to 


[American armed vessels took prisoners 
on the island of St. John's and pillaged de- 
fenceless inhabitants. Such conduct, how- 
ever, could not fail to excite the indignation 
of the commander-in-chief and he released 
the captives immediately, and orders were 
given for restoring the goods. The follow- 
ing note was written by Mr. Callbeck, one 
of the captured officials.] 

"I should ill deserve the generous treat- 
ment, which your Excellency has been 
pleased to show me, had I not gratitude to 

acknowledge so great a favor. I cannot 
ascribe any part of it to my own merit, but 
must impute the whole to the philanthropy 
and humane disposition, that so truly char- 
acterize General Washington. Be so oblig- 
ing, therefore, as to accept the only return 
in my power, that of my grateful thanks." 

"I wish only to express the impression 
General Washington has left on my mind; 
the idea of a perfect whole, that cannot be 
the produce of enthusiasm, which rather 
would reject it, since the effect of propor- 
tion is to diminish the idea of greatness. 
Brave without temerity, laborious without 
ambition, generous without prodigality, 
noble without pride, virtuous without se- 
verity; he seems always to have confined 
himself within those limits, where the vir- 
tues, by clothing themselves in more lively, 
but more changeable and doubtful colours, 
may be mistaken for faults. This is the 
seventh year that he has commanded the 
army, and that he has obeyed the Congress; 
more need not be said, especially in America, 
where they know how to appreciate all the 
merit contained in this simple fact. . . . 
"It will be said of him, AT THE END 
REPROACH HIMSELF. If anything can 
be more marvellous than such a character, 
it is unanimity of the public suffrages in his 
favour. Soldiers, magistrates, people, all 
love and admire him; all speak of him in 
terms of tenderness and veneration. Does 
there then exist a virtue capable of restrain- 
ing the injustice of mankind; or are glory 
and happiness too recently established in 
America, for Envy to have deigned to pass 
the seas?" 

"General Washington received the Baron 
[Steuben] with great cordiality, and to me 
he showed much condescending attention. 
I cannot describe the impression that the 
first sight of that great man made upon me. 
I could not keep my eyes from that imposing 
countenance — grave, yet not severe; affable, 
without familiarity. Its predominant ex- 
pression was calm dignity, through which 
you could trace the strong feelings of the 
patriot, and discern the father as well as 
the commander of his soldiers. I have 
never seen a picture that represents him to 
me as I saw him at Valley Forge, and dur- 
ing the campaigns in which I had the honor 
to follow him. Perhaps that expression was 
beyond the skill of the painter; but while I 
live it will remain impressed on my memory. 
I had frequent opportunities of seeing him, 
as it was my duty to accompany the Baron 
when he dined with him, which was some- 
times twice or thrice in the same week." 

"I was at Hartford, . . . with M. de 
Rochambeau. . . . M. de Rochambeau sent 
me in advance, to announce his arrival, and 

I had time to see this man, illustrious, if 
not unique in our century. His handsome 
and majestic, while at the same time mild 
and open countenance perfectly reflects his 
moral qualities; he looks the hero; he is very 
cold; speaks little, but is courteous and 
frank. A shade of sadness overshadows his 
countenance, which is not unbecoming, and 
gives him an interesting air." 


"The people who so lately stigmatized 
Washington as a rebel, regard even the en- 
franchisement of America, as one of the 
events consecrated by history and past ages. 
Such is the veneration excited by great char- 
acters. He seems so little to belong to 
modern times, that he imparts to us the same 
vivid impressions as the most august ex- 
amples of antiquity with all that they ac- 
complished. His work is scarcely finished 
when it at once attracts the veneration which 
we freely accord to those achievements only 
that are consecrated by time. The Ameri- 
can revolution, the contemporary of our 
own, is fixed forever. Washington began it 
with energy, and finished it with modera- 
tion. He knew how to maintain it, pursu- 
ing always the prosperity of his country; 
and this aim alone can justify at the tri- 
bunal of the Most High, enterprises so 

"His administration was as mild and firm 
in internal affairs as it was noble and pru- 
dent toward foreign nations. He uniformly 
respected the usages of other countries, as 
he would desire the rights of Americans to 
be respected by them. Thus in all his nego- 
tiations, the heroic simplicity of the Presi- 
dent of the United States, without elevation 
or debasement, was brought into communi- 
cation with the majesty of Kings. He 
sought not in his administration those con- 
ceptions which the age calls great, but which 
he regarded as vain. His ideas were more 
sage than bold; he sought not admiration, 
but he always enjoyed esteem, alike in the 
field and in the Senate, in the midst of 
business as in the quiet of retirement." 

JAMES FOX (1794) 

"And here, Sir, I cannot help alluding to 
the President of the United States, General 
Washington, a character whose conduct has 
been so different from that, which has been 
pursued by the ministers of this country. 
How infinitely wiser must appear the spirit 
and principles manifested in his late address 
to Congress, than the policy of modern 
European courts! Illustrious man, deriving 
honor less from the splendor of his situation 
than from the dignity of his mind; before 
whom all borrowed greatness sinks into sig- 
nificance, and all the potentates of Europe 
(excepting the members of our own royal 
family) become little and contemptible! 
He has had no occasion to have recourse to 
any tricks of policy or arts of alarm; his 
authority has been sufficiently supported by 


Honor to George Washington 

the same means by which it was acquired, 
and his conduct has uniformly been char- 
acterized by wisdom, moderation and firm- 



"I have had many conversations with 
General Washington. ... I have formed as 
high an opinion of the powers of his mind, 
his moderation, his patriotism, and his vir- 
tues, as I had before from common report 
conceived of his military talents and of the 
incalculable services he has rendered to his 

LUZERNE (1784) 

"The estate of General Washington not 
being more than fifteen leagues from An- 
napolis I accepted an invitation that he gave 
me to go and pass several days there, and it 
is from his house that I have the honor to 
write to you. After having seen him on 
my arrival on this continent, in the midst 
of his camp and in the tumult of arms, I 
have the pleasure to see him a simple citizen, 
enjoying in the repose of his retreat the glory 
which he so justly acquired. ... He dresses 
in a gray coat like a Virginia farmer, and 
nothing about him recalls the recollections 
of the important part which he has played 
except the great number of foreigners who 
come to see him." 


"Imposing in size, noble and well propor- 
tioned, a countenance open, calm and sedate, 
but without any one striking feature, and 
when you depart from him, the remem- 
brance only of a fine man will remain, a 
fine figure, an exterior plain and modest, a 
pleasing address, firm without severity, a 
manly courage, an uncommon capacity for 
grasping the whole scope of a subject, and 
a complete experience in war and politics; 
equally useful in the cabinet and in the field 
of Mars, the idol of his country, the admi- 
ration of the enemy he has fought and van- 
quished; modest in victory, great in the 
reverse; why do I say reverse! very far from 
being subdued he has made every misfortune 
contribute to his success. He knows how 
to obey as well as command, he never made 
use of his power or the submission of his 
army to derogate from the authority of his 
country or to disobey its commands." 



"All the life of this man, worthy of 
eternal praise, can be compared to the clean- 
est of looking glasses. If one can not say 
that he was always above the situation he 
occupied, one can however assert that in any 
case he was always adequate to it. In his 
private life, Gen. Washington was always a 
loving husband, ardent and steadfast friend, 
a just master and a pious christian." 


"He has ever shown himself superior to 
fortune, and in the most trying adversity 
has discovered resources till then unknown; 
and, as if his abilities only increased and 
dilated at the prospect of difficulty, he is 
never better supplied than when he seems 
destitute of everything, nor have his arms 
ever been so fatal to his enemies, as at the 
very instant when they thought they had 
crushed him for ever. . . . 

"Old men, women, and children, press 
about him when he accidently passes along, 
and think themselves happy, once in their 
lives, to have seen him — they follow him 
through the towns with torches, and cele- 
brate his arrival by public illuminations. 
The Americans, that cool and sedate people, 
who in the midst of their most trying diffi- 
culties, have attended only to the directions 
and impulses of plain method and common 
sense, are roused, animated, and inflamed at 
the very mention of his name: and the first 
songs that sentiment or gratitude has dic- 
tated, have been to celebrate General 


"One of my most earnest wishes was to 
see Washington, the hero of America. He 
was then encamped at a short distance from 
us, and the Count de Rochambeau was kind 
enough to introduce me to him. Too often 
reality disappoints the expectations our im- 
agination had raised, and admiration dimin- 
ishes by a too near view of the object upon 
which it had been bestowed; but, on seeing 
General Washington, I found a perfect simi- 
larity between the impression produced upon 
me by his aspect, and the idea I had formed 
of him. His exterior disclosed, as it were, 
the history of his life: simplicity, grandeur, 
dignity, calmness, goodness, firmness, the 
attributes of his character, were also stamped 
upon his features, and in all his person. His 
stature was noble and elevated; the expres- 
sion of his features mild and benevolent; his 
smile graceful and pleasing; his manners 
simple, without familiarity. . . . Washing- 
ton, when I saw him, was forty-nine years 
of age. He endeavored modestly to avoid 
the marks of admiration and respect which 
were so anxiously offered to him, and yet no 
man ever knew better how to receive and 
to acknowledge them. He listened, with an 
obliging attention, to all those who addressed 
him, and the expression of his countenance 
had conveyed his answer before he spoke." 


"Man is born with a tendency to pride 
and the further he progresses in his career 
in an elevated rank the more his self love 
nourishes this vice in him but so far this 
Washington although born with every 
superior quality adds to them an imposing 
modesty which will always cause him to be 
admired by those who have the good fortune 
to see him; as for esteem he has already 
drawn to himself that of all Europe even in 

the heart of his enemies and ours — 'tandem 
oculi nostri, videuntur honorem et virtu- 
tem.' " 


"Washington's character was from his 
first entrance in public life through its whole 
course not only unimpeached but highly 
revered by all, who were admitted to his ac- 
quaintance. His active prudence was guided 
by his intrepid courage: — his vigilant mind, 
never appalled in the most distressing 
emergence, was always enliven'd by a 
manly devotion, and all these virtues, with 
a vivid sense of his own intrinsic value, were 
only equalled by his modesty. Remembering 
that he was a man, Washington made every 
reasonable allowance for the frailities of 
human nature, pardon'd its weaknesses, and 
pity'd her follies, as often they were not 
blackened by vices, or the Public welfare 
did not require the infliction of a severer 
punishment. . . . 

"We wrong this eminent man M. H.! 
("my hearers] in considering him alone as a 
General. Washington's claims, as a states- 
man, on our on Posterity's respectful regard, 
are equally solid. We Americans, assent with 
all heart to this self-evident truth. Lett 
Foreigners — to appreciate the solidity of our 
judgment, consider maturely Washington's 
admonitions — when he divested himself of 
the supreme command — dijudicate our Con- 
stitution, as a part of his egregious work- 
manship, and scrutinise his letter to the Indi- 
vidual states, as President of the Conven- 
tion, and none of them will longer hesitate 
to go over in the steps of Columbia's sons. 
A constitution is adopted, and Washington 
unanimously chosen President of the United 
States. Here once more this great and good 
man sacrifices the delights of his retirement 
to the toils of a laborious life, for the benefit 
of his Country — with the same inimitable 
disinterestedness. What a large — what an 
immense field of glory for him, of stupefy- 
ing amazement for us see I here opening! 

"The sight of the General in his brightest 
glory is lost in the radiancy of this new 
Politic Luminary. Mine eyes are weaken- 
ing — bedimmed — bedewed, but my heart in 
the same moment joyfully expanded by its 
benign all vivifying influence." 

"I crossed the river from Maryland into 
Virginia, near the renowned General Wash- 
ington's, where I had the honour to spend 
some time, and was kindly entertained with 
that worthy family. As to the General, if 
we may judge by the countenance, he is 
what the world says of him, a shrewd, good- 
natured, plain, humane man, about fifty-five 
years of age, and seems to wear well, being 
healthful and active, straight, well made, and 
about six feet high. He keeps a good table, 
which is always open to those of a genteel 
appearance. He does not use many Frenchi- 
fied congees or flattering useless words with- 
out meaning, which savours more of deceit 

Tributes to Washington 


than an honest heart; but on the contrary, 
his words seem to point at truth and reason, 
and to spring from the fountain of a heart, 
which being good of itself, cannot be sus- 
picious of others, till facts unriddle designs, 

"I have travelled and seen a great deal of 
the world, have conversed with all degrees 
of people, and have remarked that there are 
only two persons in the world which have 
every one's good word, and those are — the 
Queen of England and General Washington, 

which I never heard friend or foe speak 
slightly of." 


"I confess, I was struck with awe and 
veneration, when I recollected that I was 
now in the presence of one of the greatest 
men upon earth— the GREAT WASHING- 
TON — the noble and wise benefactor of the 
world! . . . Whether we view him as a gen- 
eral in the field vested with unlimited au- 
thority and power, at the head of a vic- 

torious army; or in the cabinet, as the 
President of the United States; or as a 
private gentleman, cultivating his own 
farm; he is still the same great man, anxious 
only to discharge with propriety the duties 
of his relative situation. His conduct has 
always been so uniformly manly, honorable, 
just, patriotic, and disinterested, that his 
greatest enemies cannot fix on any one trait 
of his character that can deserve the least 

Part IV 
Principal Official Appointments (1749*1799) 

1749, July 20 — Official Surveyor of Cul- 
peper County, Va., through exami- 
nation and commission by William 
and Mary College. 

1752, November 6 — District Adjutant-Gen- 

eral with rank of major in Virginia 
Militia. The initial appointment 
was to the Southern District, but 
at his request early in 1753 Gover- 
nor Dinwiddie assigned him to the 
Northern District in November of 
that year. 

1753, October 31 — Dispatched by Governor 

Dinwiddie with message to the 
French commandant on the Ohio. 

1754, March 15 — Lieutenant-Colonel of the 

Virginia Regiment (Colonel Fry), 
and sent with troops to complete 
the fort at the Forks of the Ohio. 
June 4 — Announcement of appoint- 
ment as Colonel, on death of Fry. 
Resigned before the end of the year. 

1755, May 10 — Aide-de-Camp, appointed by 

General Braddock; a volunteer posi- 
tion without rank. 
August 14 — Colonel of the Virginia 
Regiment and Commander in Chief 
of Virginia Forces. This gave him 
no authority over regular officers 
commanding provincials on the 

1756, February-March — Trip to Boston to 

secure a decision on rank of pro- 
vincials from Governor Shirley, who 
commanded the British forces in 

175 8 — Participated in the Forbes expedition. 
July 24 — Burgess for Frederick 
County, first election; reelected, 
May 18, 1761. 
December — Resigned commission as 
Colonel of the Virginia Regiment 
and Commander in Chief of Vir- 
ginia Forces. 

1762, October 2 5 — Vestryman of Truro 
Parish in Fairfax County; also 
elected for Fairfax Parish, March 
28, 1765, but did not serve, being 
reelected to Truro soon after. 

1763, October 3 — Warden of Pohick Church 

of Truro Parish. 
1765 — Justice of the Peace (see 1770). 

July 16 — Burgess for Fairfax County, 
first election; reelected December 1, 
1768; September 14, 1769; Decem- 
ber 4, 1771; July 14, 1774. 
1766 — Trustee of Alexandria. 
1770, October — Justice of the Peace for 
Fairfax County; so given in a list 
of this date; time of appointment 
not stated, but his ledger mentions 
attending court at Alexandria as 
early as June 18, 1765. 
1774, July 5 — Member of Fairfax County 
July 18 — Chairman of County Meet- 
ing at Alexandria that adopted the 
Fairfax County Resolves; appointed 
to carry resolves to the Provincial 
Convention; also member of the 
Fairfax County Committee of 
August 1-6 — Member of First Vir- 
ginia Provincial Convention; at- 
tends as Burgess and special dele- 
August 5 — Elected by the Provincial 
Convention delegate to the First 
Continental Congress. 
September 5 -October 26 — Attends the 
Congress at Philadelphia. 
1775 — Field Officer of the Independent 
Companies in several counties in 
February 20 — Member of Second Pro- 
vincial Convention; elected for 
Fairfax County. 
March 20-27 — Attend Virginia Pro- 
vincial Convention at Richmond. 
March 2 5 — Chosen by the Provincial 
Convention delegate to the Second 
Continental Congress. 
May 10-June 22 — Attends the Con- 
gress at Philadelphia. 
June 1 5 — Elected by Congress Gen- 
eral and Commander in Chief of the 
Army of the United Colonies. 

June 16 — Accepts the election. 

June 19 — Commissioned as Com- 
mander in Chief. 

July 3 — Takes command at Cam- 
bridge, Mass. 

1783, December 23 — Surrenders commission 

to Congress at Annapolis. 

1784, December 20-29 — Attends upon the 

Maryland Legislature at Annapolis 
as Virginia representative for joint 
legislation on Potomac Improve- 
1787, March 28 — Virginia Delegate to the 
Federal Convention; accepts ap- 
May 2 5 — President of the Federal Con- 
vention; unanimously elected. 

1789, February 4 — President of the United 

States; elected by unanimous vote 
for the term 1789-1793. 
April 30 — President of the United 
States; inaugurated at New York. 

1790, July 16 — Act for establishing perma- 

nent seat of Government; President 
Washington authorized by act of 
Congress to appoint commissioners 
and direct their activities in locat- 
ing the district, laying out the city, 
selecting sites for public buildings, 

1791, March 28-30 — Commission to lay out 

the Federal District; first meeting 
at Georgetown. 
March 30 — Proclamation of bound- 
aries of District. 

1792, December 5 — President of the United 

States; reelected by unanimous elec- 
toral vote. 

1793, March 4 — Second inauguration at 

September 18 — Lays cornerstone of 
the Capitol at City of Washington. 

1797, March 4 — Second Presidential term 


1798, July 4 — Lieutenant General and Com- 

mander in Chief of the Armies; ap- 
pointed by President Adams. 
July 13 — Accepts appointment. 
(See aiso pp. 28, 91.) 


Honor to George Washington 

Selected Authorities 

The biographies, biographical sketches, 
scenarios, addresses, and short comments on 
Washington run into the thousands; a classi- 
fication of the most important of these will 
be found in Pamphlet 15 of this series. 
Comments printed during Washington's life- 
time or soon after are, of course, long out 
of print and to be found usually only in the 
large libraries. Several of the books listed 
below bring together some of these early 
utterances; but for the most part, unless the 
tribute is in a work specially devoted to 
Washington, it is likely to be in a mass of 
unrelated material and not accessible. Hence 
the particular value of the present pamphlet. 
Three of the other books listed below are 
bibliographies, which will help to open up 
contemporary material for those desiring to 
search further. 

Baker, William S. — Bibliothcca Washing- 
toniana; a Descriptive List of the Biog- 
raphies and Biographical Sketches. Phila- 
delphia, Lindsay, 1889. (Arranged 

Baker, William S., ed. — Character Por- 
traits of Washington as delineated by 
Historians, Orators and Divines, selected 
and arranged in Chronological Order with 
Biographical Notes and References. Phila- 
delphia, Lindsay, 1887. 

Baker, William S., ed. — Early Sketches of 
George Washington, reprinted with Bio- 
graphical and Bibliographical Notes. 
Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1894. 

Channing, Hart and Turner. — Guide to 
the Study of American History. Boston, 
Ginn, 1912. A classified bibliography in- 
cluding books on the period of Washing- 

Hough, Franklin B., ed. — Washington- 
iana: or, Memorials of the Death of 
George Washington, . . . with a List of 
Tracts and Volumes printed upon the 
Occasion. 2 vols. Roxbury, Mass., the 
Author, 1865. 

Merriam, George Ernest, ed. — More 
precious than Fine Gold: Washington 
Commonplace Book. New York, Put- 
nam, 1931. 

Sawyer, Joseph Dillaway. — Washington. 
2 vols. New York, Macmillan, 1927. 
(Especially Vol. II, chs. xl, xli.) 

Stillwell, Margaret B. — Washington 
Eulogies; a Check List. New York, Pub- 
lic Library, 1916. 

Tuckerman, Henry T. — Character and 
Portraits of Washington. New York, 
Putnam, 18 59. 


George Washington on His Farm 

From a painting by Chappel 

Pamphlet Number Four 

Washington the Farmer 

By David M, Matteson 


Land and Crops and Stock 


George Washington 

From an engraving by Amos Doolittle, after a portrait by Joseph Wright 


ASHINGTON did his duty as a 
soldier and a statesman; to be a 
successful farmer was his aspira- 
tion and great pleasure. He wrote 
to Arthur Young, the famous English agri- 
culturist, on August 6, 1786: "Agriculture 
has ever been amongst the most favorite 
amusements of my life, though I never 
possessed much skill in the art; and nine 
years total inattention of it, has added noth- 
ing to a knowledge which is best understood 
from practice; but with the means you have 
been so obliging as to furnish me, I shall 
return to it (though rather late in the day) 
with hope and confidence." Again, Decem- 
ber 4, 1788, he wrote: "The more I am ac- 
quainted with agricultural affairs, the better 
I am pleased with them; insomuch that I 
can no where find so great satisfaction as in 
those innocent and useful pursuits. In in- 
dulging these feelings, I am led to reflect 
how much more delightful to an unde- 

bauched mind, is the task of making im- 
provements on the earth, than all the vain 
glory that can be acquired from ravaging 
it, by the most uninterrupted career of con- 
quest." Nor were these sentiments simply 
polite expressions to harmonize with the 
known belief of his correspondent. Similar 
phrases are mixed throughout his correspond- 
ence, and are exemplified by the actions and 
observations recorded in the diaries. 

Washington was always land hungry, and 
added various tracts to the original home 
fields; so that in the end he owned some 
8,000 acres, divided into five farms and 
woodlands. He also carried on fisheries, a 
ferry, and a mill attached to the holdings. 

On this land Washington practiced not 
only farming in its restricted extent but 
stock raising, including horses, mules, sheep, 
cattle, and hogs, as well as hounds, and 
forage crops for the stock; horticulture; 
landscape gardening; and, what was particu- 
larly unusual in Virginia at this time, the 

improvement of farming implements and the 
building of barns and other shelters. 


The system of culture to which Washing- 
ton, the planter, was born was one of exten- 
sion only with a single crop basis of tobacco 
production, the rank growth of which and 
the rude slave labor that looked out for it, 
soon exhausted the land and compelled 
abandonment of worked lands and clearing 
of new fields to be in turn subjected to 
nature's ravages. Destructive farming was 
the rule; conservation was unknown. This 
was not unreasonable in colonial or even 
later times; Washington well discussed the 
question in 1791. "The aim of the farmers 
in this country (if they can be called farm- 
ers) is, not to make the most they can from 
the land, which, is or has been cheap, but 
the most of the labour, which is dear; the 
consequence of which has been much ground 
has been scratched over and none cultivated 
or improved as it ought to have been; 
whereas a farmer in England, where land is 
dear, and labour cheap, finds it his interest 
to improve and cultivate highly; that he 
may reap large crops from a small quantity 
of ground. That the last is the true, and 
the first an erroneous policy, I will readily 
grant; but it requires time to conquer bad 
habits, and hardly any thing short of neces- 
sity is able to accomplish it. That necessity 
is approaching by pretty rapid strides." 
Mount Vernon was a plantation composed 
of five distinct farms, and he owned other 
great land holdings; but he cultivated none 
of these holdings himself. They were either 
under managers, or leased, or in case of much 
of the western property remained during 
his life wild lands. 


Though Washington was born with these 
"bad habits," he took pains not only to 
eradicate them in his own farming, so far 
as possible, but to furnish through his re- 
sults an example to his fellows. He was 
always the practical farmer, without the 
resources of the scientific side of the work, 
as we now know such; but he made up for 
it in the course of years by agronomical 
experiments, from the results of which he 
built up his own theories, and in the end 



Honor to George Washington 

became America's first "scientific farmer." 
His Diaries are full of his experiments: tests 
of plowing and ditching; tests of a variety 
of seeds in various soils and combinations 
of fertilizers; tests of treatment of seeds be- 
fore planting; tests of miscellaneous crops 
and rotation of crops; tests of grafting; 
tests of vegetables; tests of stock raising, of 
grazing land, and breeding; tests of tools and 
shelter; tests of labor, white and black. 


Like all other planters in lower Virginia 
in colonial times, his crop at first was to- 
bacco, and more tobacco; but from the first 
this one-crop system displeased him, origi- 
nally, perhaps, because his land was not of 
the best quality for this crop; but more 
because of its effect on the soil, the special 
labor requirements, and the complications of 
its marketing. He appears to have been the 
first large planter to change out of the to- 
bacco routine. Still, in 1759 he made 
37,000 pounds of it, and in 1763 almost 
90,000 pounds; but by 1773 it had fallen 
to 5,000 pounds, and it was never a main 
crop thereafter, though he continued to 
raise a small quantity down to 1789. He 
wrote in 1792: "The history, however, is 
this — a piece of land is cut down, and kept 
under constant cultivation, first in tobacco, 
and then in Indian corn (two very exhaust- 
ing plants) , until it will yield scarcely any- 
thing; — a second piece is cleared, and treated 
in the same manner; then a third, and so on, 
until probably, there is but little more to 
clear. When this happens, the owner finds 
himself reduced to the choice of one of three 
things — either to recover the land which he 
has ruined, to accomplish which, he has per- 
haps neither the skill, the industry, or the 
means — or to retire beyond the mountains — 
or to substitute quantity for quality in order 
to raise something. The latter has been gen- 
erally adopted, and, with the assistance of 
horses, he scratches over much ground, and 
seeds it, to very little purpose, as you may 
suppose, . . . The practice above-mentioned 
applied more particularly to the tobacco 
States, which, happily, are yielding more and 
more every year to the growth of wheat; 
and as this prevails the husbandry improves." 
Elsewhere he wrote that he soon discon- 
tinued the growth of tobacco; "except at a 
plantation or two upon York River, I make 
no more of that article than barely serves 
to furnish me with goods." 


Wheat became his substitute as the chief 
crop; and, in spite of other plans, so re- 
mained. In 1769 he sold 6,241 bushels, but 
later he milled the wheat himself and sold 
the flour. He had two mills close to Mount 
Vernon, and accepted customs grinding from 
his neighbors. Most of the flour went ulti- 
mately to the West Indies; and from it the 
greatest part of the farm revenue probably 
came. He experimented widely in the cul- 
ture, tried various ways to prevent rust or 

the Hessian fly from spoiling the crop, tried 
various plows and made a plow on his own 
plan. He also invented a barrel drill. He 
estimated the proper time to begin reaping 
and the progress of the cradlers, invested in 
threshing machines and had a threshing 
floor in his new round, or many-sided, barn 
instead of outside as was the accepted 

All these matters receive notice in the 
statements of the Diaries. July 2 5, 1768, 
he noted that he "took Wheat of three 
differt. degrees of Ripeness . . . and ob- 
servd after they had lain 2 or 3 days in 
the sun ... by wch. it evidently appears 
that to cut Wheat Knot green is not only 
safe but the most desirable state it can be 
cut in; . . . The question is, whether it 
may not be better to begin while the Wheat 
is colouring from the upper joint, as the 
grain will loose but little (if any) than to 
cut in an overripe state, when it may loose 
a good deal more by shattering. For my 
part I am clear it is better to cut it green 
and shall have no reluctance to practice 
where the whole cannot be cut at the exact 
period one woud choose it." 


July 15, 1769, he observed that "it ap- 
peard evident that 10, and sometimes 9, 
Cradlers (according as the Wheat was thick 
or thin) were full suff. to keep the rest of 
my hands employ 'd; and it likewise appeard, 
that it was evidently to my advantage to 
employ my own hands to Cradle the Wheat 
rather than to hire any at all, as these may 
be got for 2 Shillgs. or half a Crown a day, 
whereas the Wages of the White Cradlers 
are exorbitantly high. But if Wheat of 
different kinds are sowed so as to prevent 
the Harvest coming on at once, it is my 
opinion that hirelings of all kinds may be 
dispensed with. The Rakers in the gen- 
erality of the Wheat is sufficient to Rake 
and bind after a Cradle, and the rest of the 
hands can manage (after the water Carriers 
and Cooks are taken out) to get the Wheat 
into convent, places and attend the Stack- 
ers. Two, and sometimes three, Stackers will 
Stack as fast as it is cut and I am of opinion 
that two brisk hands is sufft. for this pur- 
pose. From experience it has been found 
advantageous to put the Cradlers and their 
attendants into at least 3 Gangs. The Stops 
and delays by this means are not so fre- 
quent, and the Work much better attended 
to, as every Mans work is distinguishable, 
and the whole Cradles not always stopping 
for every little disorder that happens to 
each respective one, as is the case when they 
cut altogether." 


Besides wheat he raised other grains — corn, 
oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, which last was 
also plowed under as a fertilizer — but these 
were mainly for domestic consumption. 
Corn gave him much trouble, as his land, 
not being especially fertile, was not favor- 

able for the crop. At times he had to pur- 
chase corn to make up the quantity neces- 
sary for the slaves' food allowance. The 
plantation was almost self-sustaining, for 
he cultivated hay crops of various varieties, 
including alfalfa which he called lucerne, 
and the more common vegetables — roots and 
legumes. He wrote, December 4, 1788, that 
he "planted a large quantity of potatoes," 
and was, in spite of a poor crop, "more and 
more convinced of the prodigious usefulness 
of this root, and that it is very little, if 
any thing, of an exhauster. I have a high 
opinion also of carrots." For home con- 
sumption he also raised flax and the early 
diaries mention hemp, but not cotton. 


He spent the greatest part of the day 
March 26, 1760, in making a new plow of 
"my own Invention," and "she answered 
very well in the Field in the lower Pasture." 
Years later, April 8, 1786, he "Rid a little 
after Sun rise to Muddy [hole], to try my 
drill plow again which, with the alteration 
of the harrow yesterday, I find will fully 
answer my expectation, and that it drops 
the grains thicker, or thinner in proportion 
to the quantity of seed in the Barrel. The 
less there is in it the faster it issues from 
the holes. The weight of a quantity in the 
barrel, occasions (I presume) a pressure on 
the holes that does not admit of a free dis- 
charge of the Seed through them, whereas 
a small quantity (sufficient at all times to 
cover the bottom of the barrel) is, in a 
manner sifted through them by the revolu- 
tion of the Barrel." Later on, October 19, 
1787, he sowed "Wheat with a Barrel 6 feet 
long perforated with holes, strapped round 
with leather bands in order with intention 
to drop the Wheat in clumps 6 Inches 
Square; but the leather not binding equally 
alike in all parts, it discharged Seeds from 
the Sides and sowed it broad; . . . not 
having time to try new experiments to alter 
it, the Season for sowing this grain being 
far advanced, I directed that it should pro- 
ceed as it was." 

Washington was always readjusting and 
rebuilding. For example, December 30, 

1769, he 'Rid to my Mill with [John] Ball, 
and agreed with [him] to Build her." This 
and the race occupied much of his attention 
during the next month. On September 22, 

1770, he "Receivd from Edwd. Snickers the 
Mill stones he was to get for [me] which 
were thinner by two Inchs. than what were 
bespoke." Snickers lived in the Blue Ridge, 
and the stones probably came from there. 


Again he was testing seed grain, Novem- 
ber 30, 1785, when he was "On the Wheat 
which was . . . from the Cape of Good 
Hope, ... I determined to try an experi- 
ment, and accordingly on three Rows . . . 
I cut it within 4 Inches of the ground." 
The next season, April 10, 1786, he "Began 
also to sow the Siberian Wheat ... in the 

Washington the Farmer 


ground laid apart there for experiments." 
At another time he "Began to Sow . . . 
wheat steep d in Brine and allum"; this was 
to check the rust. He also experimented 
with methods to check the "bugs" and the 
Hessian fly. Fertilization had his attention 
early. He mixed his "composts," April 14, 
1760, in a box with ten apartments, in which 
he put soil, sand, marie, mould, clay, and 
manure of various kinds, in recorded mix- 
ture, and planted in each division three 
grains of wheat and as many of oats and 
barley, "all at equal distances in Rows, and 
of equal depth (done by a machine made 
for the purpose)". Two weeks later he 
recorded the result. He had great faith in 
river mud as a fertilizer, but nature not 
being kind enough to distribute it as in the 
case of the Nile, he found an unsurmount- 
able difficulty in getting it from the bed 
of the river to the land. 


His interest in stock was one of Wash- 
ington's important characteristics as an 
agriculturist, especially after his war experi- 
ence had made him acquainted with condi- 
tions in the northern states. He saw the 
advisability of using oxen to supplement 
draft horses and wrote, June 18, 1792: 
"Were we to use horses less, and oxen more, 
on our farms (as they do in the New Eng- 
land States), we should, unquestionably, 
find our account in it." His chief experi- 
ment was with mules. From the King of 

Spain he received a "Royal Gift," a jack, 
and lighter Malta animals, a jack and two 
jennies, from Lafayette. With these he 
propagated. He wrote on December 4, 
1778: "The Spanish jack seems calculated to 
breed for heavy slow draught; the others for 
the saddle, or lighter carriages. From these, 
altogether, I hope to secure a race of extraor- 
dinary goodness, which will stock the 
country. Their longevity and cheap keeping 
will be circumstances much in their favor. 
I am convinced, from the little experiments 
I have made with the ordinary mules (which 
perform as much labor, with vastly less feed- 
ing than horses), that those of a superior 
quality will be the best cattle we can em- 
ploy for the harness; and indeed in a few 
years, I intend to drive no other in my 
carriage." There is no record, however, that 
he ever rode and drove any of the get, rather 
than behind or aback the offspring of his 
great Arabian stallion Magnolia; but the 
inventory of his estate included 60 mules. 

In the improvement of cattle and swine 
he did not show much interest, though he 
had many of both, and did his own slaugh- 
tering. He considered, however, that the 
raising of stock for meat would be a profit- 
able enterprise and spoke of the regrettable 
lack of pasturage land in the South. "No 
more cattle," he wrote Young, November 1, 
1787, "is raised than can be supported by 
lowland meadows, swamps, &c, and the tops 
and blades of Indian corn; as very few per- 

sons have attended to sowing grasses, and 
connecting cattle with their crops." 
Wool was the most important textile ma- 
terial and Washington paid much and in- 
creasing attention to his sheep, the raising 
of which was not at all common in the 
South. He found it unusually troublesome, 
especially during his own long absences. 
Hence he wrote, December 4, 1788: "I can- 
not help thinking that increasing and im- 
proving our breed of sheep, would be one 
of the most profitable speculations we could 
undertake; especially in this part of the con- 
tinent, where we have so little winter, that 
they require either no dry fodder, or next to 
none; and where we are sufficiently distant 
from the frontiers, not to be troubled with 
wolves or other wild vermin, which prevent 
the inhabitants there from keeping flocks. 
... So persuaded am I of the practicability 
and advantage of it, that I have raised near 
200 lambs upon my farm this year." He 
was thoroughly appreciative of the value of 
improving the breed: "But the great impedi- 
ment is the British statutes [preventing ex- 
port of breeding animals] ; these discourage 
men of delicacy . . . Others, however, less 
scrupulous, have attempted to import Eng- 
lish rams with success, and, by this means, 
our flocks, in many places, are much im- 
proved — mine, for instance, though I never 
was concerned, directly nor indirectly, in the 
importation of one, further than by buying 
lambs which have descended from them." 

Part II 

Organization and Labor 


It is evident from Washington's numer- 
ous letters to the great English agricultural 
expert, Arthur Young, that he considered the 
English system as the model for American 
agriculture, particularly in the matter of 
rotation of crops. In the 1787 letter he 
wrote: "There are several (among which I 
may class myself), who are endeavoring to 
get into your regular and systematic course 
of cropping, as fast as the nature of the 
business will admit; so that I hope in the 
course of a few years, we shall make a more 
respectable figure as farmers, that we have 
hitherto done." 


Washington had been his own manager, 
with overseers for the separate farms, except 
when away during the Revolution, at which 
time a distant relative, Lund Washington, 
was in charge. It was with the above ideal 

in view that he decided to engage a practical 
English farmer as manager or bailiff, in the 
person of one James Bloxham with whom he 
entered into a year's agreement, May 31, 
1786, by which Bloxham was to "suggest 
such plans for the improvement of the said 
Washington's Farms, and the stock . . . 
which are on them as to him shall appear 
most conducive to his interest . . . attend- 
ing particularly to the care and management 
of the Stock of every kind, both in Winter 
& Summer — as well those for the use and 
benefit of the farms, and for family con- 
sumption, as those which may be fatted for 
the Market — That he will use his utmost 
endeavours to encrease, and properly dis- 
tribute, the Manure on the farms; and also 
will improve to the best of his judgment, 
the implements of husbandry necessary 
thereto — and will instruct, as occasion may 
require, and opportunities offer, the labour- 
ers therein how to Plow, Sow, Mow, Reap, 
Thatch, Ditch, Hedge, &c. in the best 

This arrangement evidently did not pros- 
per at first for Washington wrote, August 6, 
1786: "He has the appearance of a plain 
honest farmer, — is industrious; — and, from 
the character given of him by a Mr. Peacy 
... is understanding in the management 
of stock, and of most matters for which he 
is employed. How far his abilities may be 
equal to a pretty extensive concern, is ques- 
tionable. And what is still worse, he has 
come over with improper ideas; for instead 
of preparing his mind to meet a ruinous 
course of cropping, exhausted lands, and 
numberless inconveniences into which we 
had been thrown by an eight year war, he 
seems to have expected that he was coming 
to well organized farms, and that he was to 
have met ploughs, harrows, and all the other 
implements of husbandry, in as high taste as 
the best farming countries in England could 
have exhibited them. How far his fortitude 
will enable him to encounter these disap- 
pointments, or his patience and perseverance 


Honor to George Washington 

will cur)- him towards the work of reform, 
remains to be decided." 

He expressed similar sentiments to Peacy, 
adding that the farmer seems to expect 
farms in the condition where "there would 
have been no occasion for his Services." 
Bloxham on his part wrote on July 23, 1786: 
"I should bee glad if you could get a Clever 
Little Deasant D plow which must go with- 
out a weeal for the Land is not Level and to 
be Shoor to make him Light and Deasant 
and be Shoor to make him turn the worke 
well for they have som most shoking Plows 
that Ever was Seen in the world. . . I Rot 
in my other Letter to my wife to Com over 
but I thinke it not worth while for I think 
thatt I Shall not Stay no Longer than my 
yeare is up which is the first of next may 
for things Are verey Desagreable to Do 
Bisness it is imposable for any man to Do 
Bisness in any form . . . this Contey is 
verey pore and there is no chance for any 
Body to Do any god . . . thear is another 
thing Which is very Disagreable these Black 
People I am Rather in Danger of being poi- 
sind among them which I think I Shall Leave 
the Contrey ass son Ass I Can." Matters 
evidently improved later, for his wife and 
family came over; and he remained with the 
General until 1791 and then settled on his 
own land. 


It is doubtful whether Bloxham was con- 
sidered the responsible manager of the farms 
during the President's absence. At first 
various relatives served in this office; and 
from 1793 outsiders were employed for the 
rest of Washington's life. To these he wrote 
precise instructions and expected equally 
complete reports each week. The overseers 
of the various farms and the master work- 
men were usually white, indentured servants 
for the most part. They were of all kinds 
and of various motives and faults, and 
planter Washington dealt with them accord- 
ing to their deserts, with many comments 
thereon in the diaries. Thus, January 28, 
1760, he "Severely reprimanded young 
Stephen's for his Indolence," but a few days 
later "Found Richd. Stephen's hard at Work 
with an ax — very extraordinary this." 

The plantation laborers and most of the 
lower grade artisans were slaves. Washing- 
ton considered them more economical than 
white paid laborers would be. Hence he 
wrote, June 18, 1792: "But high wages is 
not the worst evil attending the hire of 
white men in this country; for being accus- 
tomed to better fare than, I believe, the 
labourers of almost any other country, adds 
considerably to the expence of employing 
them; whilst blacks, on the contrary, are 
cheaper, the common food of them (even 
when well treated) being bread made of In- 
dian corn, butter-milk, fish (pickled her- 
rings) frequently, and meat now and then; 
with a blanket for bedding." He was a just 
master, but he required industry and obedi- 
ence; and when his slaves, or his indentured 

white servants, ran away he advertised or 
otherwise took measures to procure their 

in his diary for July 15, 1786, appears a 
long comment on the method of wheat har- 
vesting, ending: "But as neither rain nor 
dews will hurt the grain . . . and as there 
is allways work enough on the Plantations 
to employ the hands in (such as succouring 
and hoeing of Corn, pulling flax, weeding the 
vines, Pease, etca., etca.,) supposing the 
interruptions above mentioned to happen, no 
labour need be lost." 


Mention has already been made of Wash- 
ington's interest in farming utensils and 
their improvement. He ordered special 
plows from England, and corresponded with 
Young about other agricultural instruments. 

While in New York as President, January 
22, 1790, he called "on the Baron de Polnitz, 
to see the operation of his (Winlaw's) 
threshing machine," which he describes, and 
adds: "Upon the whole, it appears to be an 
easier, more expeditious, and much cleaner 
way of getting out grain than by the usual 
mode of threshing; and vastly to be pre- 
ferred to treading, which is hurtful to 
horses, filthy to the wheat, and not more 
expeditious." In 1797 he built a thresher on 
plans furnished by William Booker, but it 
was not satisfactory, and probably was 
junked, for Washington as much as later 
captains of industry was not slow to discard 
tools and methods proved to be inefficient. 
His advanced position in American hus- 
bandry is also shown by his building. He 
built a brick barn after a plan drawn by 
Arthur Young and wrote, December 4, 
1788. "The building of a brick barn has 
occupied much of my attention this summer. 
It is constructed according to the plan you 
had the goodness to send to me; but with 
some additions. It is now, I believe, the 
largest and most convenient one in this 
country." This is probably the many-sided 
"round" barn described above. 


He was in advance of his time in the use 
of improved implements and shelters, but 
could not carry his help along with him, 
hence a pessimistic letter to Henry Lee, Oc- 
tober 16, 1793, in which he admits that the 
model of a thresher brought over by the 
English farmers "may also be a good one, 
but the utility of it among careless negroes 
and ignorant overseers will depend absolutely 
upon the simplicity of the construction; for, 
if there is any thing complex in the machin- 
ery, it will be no longer in use than a mush- 
room is in existence. I have seen so much 
of the beginning and ending of new inven- 
tions, that I have almost resolved to go on 
in the old way of treading, until I get settled 
again at home, and can attend myself to the 
management of one. As a proof in point, 
of the almost impossibility of putting the 
overseers of this country out of the track 

they have been accustomed to walk in, 1 
have one of the most convenient barns in 
this, or perhaps any other country, where 
thirty hands may with great ease be em- 
ployed in threshing. Half of the wheat of 
the farm was actually stowed in this barn 
in the straw, by my order, for threshing; 
notwithstanding, when I came home about 
the middle of September, I found a treading- 
yard not thirty feet from the barn-door, the 
wheat again brought out of the barn, and 
horses treading it out in an open exposure, 
liable to the vicissitudes of weather. I am 
now erecting a building for the express pur- 
pose of treading. I have sanguine expecta- 
tions of its utility." 


In the article on Mount Vernon, Wash- 
ington's horticulture and gardening are dis- 
cussed. He was constantly on the alert for 
trees or shrubs that could be utilized in beau- 
tifying the grounds, and was also in receipt 
of an endless line of gifts of that kind. The 
diaries, especially those between the Revolu- 
tion and the presidency, contain many re- 
marks on this topic, such as, on April 13, 
1785: "Planted and sowed in boxes . . . Six 
buck eye nuts, brought with me from the 
Mouth of Cheat river; . . . Six acorns, 
which I brought with me from the South 
Branch. These grew on a tree resembling 
the box Oak, . . . Eight nuts from a tree 
called the Kentucke Coffe tree; . . . Ten 
acorns sent me by Colo. Josiah Parker . . . 
which I . . . suppose to be those of the live 
Oak. ... A scarlet triangular berry the 
cover of which opens in 3 parts and looks 
well upon the Shrub. . . . Berry of a Shrub, 
brot. from the Western Waters with me. 
... a seed brot. from the same place. . . . 
Seed of a cluster of Red Berrys which looks 
pretty, and if I recollect right grows on a 
vine." Later he describes some of the 
results. "The blossom of the Crab tree is 
unfolding [May 9], and shedding its fra- 
grant perfume. That of the black Haw has 
been out some days; and is an ornamental 
flower being in large clusters, tho' individu- 
ally small upon single foot stems. They are 
white with a yellowish cast. The flower of 
the small berry thorn is also good looking, 
the tree being full of blossom, which is not 
much unlike the blossom of the apple tree, 
but quite white." "The Guilder Rose in my 
Garden [May 13] has just got into bloom." 
"The Wood honeysuckle [May 14] wch. has 
been in bloom about 8 days is an agreeable 
looking flower and deserved a place in my 
Shrubberies." "Planted, or rather trans- 
planted [May 1, 1786], from the Box sent 
me by Colo. Washington of So. Carolina, 6 
of the Sweet scented, or aromatic shrubs." 
"Planted . . . [June 29] 25 of the Paliurus, 
very good to make hedges and inclosures for 
fields. Also . . . adjoining the Pride of 
China Plants ... 46 of the Pistatia nut in 
3 rows. And in the places where the Hem- 
lock pine . . . were dead . . . the Seeds of 

Washington the Farmer 


the Piramidical Cyprus, 75 in number, all of 
which with others were presented to me by 
Mr. Michaux, Botanist to his Most Christn. 


After Washington returned to Mount 

Vernon on retirement from the Presidency 

he was, naturally, less active. He even 

rented out one of the farms to a nephew and 

he had written to Young on December 12, 
1793, about the conditions under which he 
would rent out all the farms except the 
Mansion House one. It was in reference to 
this that Richard Parkinson, an English 
farmer and possible superintendent, came to 
Mount Vernon in 1798. He was by no 
means favorably impressed and no agreement 

In later years Washington records little on 
the farms; but his interest did not decrease. 
Only a few days before his fatal illness, he 
prepared a plan for a rotation of crops to 
apply to all his farms for several years. That 
last illness resulted from exposure in riding 
out to the farms. To the last he was the 
husbandman, the agricultural expert, and the 
farmer on a large scale. 

Part III 
shington's Scientific Farm 


(JANUARY, 1760) 
"Tuesday, 1. Visited my Plantations and re- 
ceivd an Instance of Mr. French's great love 
of Money in disappointing me of some Pork, 
because the price had risen to 22/6 after 
he had engaged to let me have it at 20/. 

"Calld at Mr. Possey's in my way home 
and desird him to engage me 100 Bar'ls of 
Corn upon the best terms he could in Mary- 

"And found Mrs. Washington upon my 
arrival broke out with the Meazles. 
"Wednesday, 2d. . . . Fearing a disappoint- 
ment elsewhere in Pork I was fein to take 
Mr. French's upon his own terms and en- 
gaged them to be deliv'd at my House on 
Monday next. 

"Tuesday, 8. . . . Got a little Butter from 
Mr. Dalton, and wrote to Colo. West for 

"In the Evening 8 of Mr. French's Hogs 
from his Ravensworth Quarter came down, 
one being lost on the way — as the others 
might as well have been for their goodness. 

"Nothing but the disappointments in this 
Article of Pork which he himself had causd 
and my necessities coud possibly have obligd 
me to take them. 

"Wednesday, 9th. Killd and dressed Mr. 
French's Hogs, which weighd 7S1 lbs neat. 

"Colo. West leaving me in doubt about 
his Pork yesterday obligd me to send to him 
again to day, and now no definitive answr 
was receivd — he purposing to send his over- 
seer down tomorrow, to agree abt it. 
"Thursday, 10th. . . . Colo. West wrote me 
word that he had engagd his Pork. Killd the 
Beeves that Jack brought down two of 
which were tolerable good. 
"Friday, 1 1 th. Deliverd Stephens two Hogs 
in part of his Year's Provisions weight, 69 
[and] 90, [or] 159. He had one before of 
100 lbs. weight. Two Hogs were also re- 
servd for Foster of the following weight, 
90 100 

83 100 


173 which with 90 


that were cut out and salted makes up 719 
lbs and accts. for Mr. French's 8 Hogs; 
showing the loss of weighing meat so soon 
killd, which cannot be less than 5 pr. Ct." 


"Wednesday, [March] 19. . . . Peter (my 
Smith) and I after several efforts to make 
a plow after a new model — partly of my 
own contriving — was feign to give it out, 
at least for the present." 

October 24. New Kent County, York 
"I have at different times sent for Hale's 
Husbandry but never yet got it, which I 
begin to attribute to a wrong description 
of the Title, having never till lately seen 
the Book; you will know it now by 'A 
Compleat Body of Husbandry compiled from 
the Original Papers of the late Thomas Hale 

August 2 5. Potomac River. 

"Hauling the Sein upon the Bar of Cedar 
Point for Sheeps heads but catchd none. Run 
down below Mouth of Machodack and 
came to." 
May 14. King William County. 

"Went to my Plantation in King William 
by Water and dredgd for Sturgeon, and 
catched one." 
May 16. New Kent, on York River. 

"Fishing for Sturgeon from Breakfast to 
Dinner but catchd none." 



"[July] 2 5. Went a fishing and dined at 
the Fish House at the Ferry Plantation." 


'[June] 30. My Brother and Family set of 
home, Mr. Tilgham also. After Breakfast 
I rid with Mr. Byrd in the Forenoon to my 
Meadow at Doeg Run and to the Mill, and 
in the Afternn. went to Sound the Depth 
of the sevl. Fishing shores from Posey's to 
Gilbt. Simpson's." 


"Where & how my time is Spent. 

"1. Dined at Belvoir with Mrs. Washington 
and Patcy Custis. Returned in the Eve- 

"2. Colo. Carlyle and two Daughters, Captn. 
Brady, and Captn, Posey, dined here. 
"3. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 

"4. Rid to Alexandria to see how my Car- 
penters went on with my Ho. Returnd 
to Dinr. 

"5. Went after Blew Wings with Humph- 
rey Peake, killd 3 and returned by Muddy 

"6. Went a hunting but found nothing. 
After which Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, 
and the Mill. 
"7. At home all day. 

"8. Likewise at home all day. In the after- 
noon Mr. Robt. Alexander came. 
"9. Went a fox hunting and finding a Deer 
the Dogs run it to the water, but we never 
see it. Mr. Alexr. went home. 
"10. Went to Captn. Posey's to Run the 
lines of the Land he bought of Mr. Marshall. 
Dind there. 

"11. At home all day. 

"12. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 
Mill. Captn. Posey dined here. 
"13. Captn. Marshall came over here and 
dined, and I rid with him round his Land. 
"14. Went a Fox hunting. Started a Dog 
Fox by old Palmer's and Run it back of Mr. 
Clifton's and there catchd it. Went after- 
wards into the Neck. Mr. Matthew Camp- 
bell dined here. 

"15. At home all day alone. My Brother 
Charles came at Night. 
"16. Went up to Court and returnd at 

"17. Went to Court again and returnd. 
Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Magowan came here. 
"18. Went a Fox huntg. with Mr. Fairfax 
and Mr. Magowan. Found and killed a Dog 

"19. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 
Mill, after Mr. Fairfax went away. 
"20. At Home all day. 


Honor to George Washington 

"21. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 
Mill. Mr. Magowan went to Colchester. 
"22. At home all day — alone. 
"23. Went to Posey's Sale. Returnd at 
Night with Colo. Mason, Mr. Ross, Mr. Se- 
bastian, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Magowan, and 
Colo. Mason's Son George. 
"24. Went to the Sale again. Mr. Harrison 
and Mr. Sebastian and Mr. Magowan came 
home with me, also Robt. Alexander. Found 
Doctr. Rumney here. 

"2 5. Went to the Sale again. Mr. Harrison 
and Mr. Magowan returned home with me. 
"26. At home all day, Mr. Harrison went 
away in the Afternoon. 
"27. Rid to Muddy hole, Doeg Run, and 
Mill; also to my New purchase of Posey's 
Land. Mr. Stedlar went away. 
"28. At home all day. Mr. Magowan went 

"29. At home all day. Captn. McCarty 
came in the Afternoon. 
"30. Set out on my journey to Williams- 
burg and reached Colo. Henry's Lee's to a 
Late Dinner. 

"31. Set out from thence abt. Nine Oclock 
and reached no further than Peyton's Ordy. 
on Aquia. being stopt by Rain." 


"2. Went into my Wheat field after dinnr. 
Mr. Davis a Midshipman dined here. 
"3. One of the Boston's Midshipman break- 
fasted here. Between breakfast and Dinner 
I went into my Harvest field. 
"4. Went into my Harvest field between 
breakfast and Dinner. 

"5. Sir Thomas Adams and Mr. Glasford, 
his first Lieutt., Breakfasted here. Sir Thos. 
returnd after it; but Mr. Glasford dined 
here, as did the 2d. Lieutt. Mr. Sartell, Mr. 
Johnston of Marines, Mr. Norris and Mr. 
Richmore, two Midshipmen. 
"6. At home all day. Mr. Stedlar came to 
dinner. Mr. Wallace, Purser to the Boston, 
came in the afternoon and purchased and 
killed my Bull — the 4 quarters of which 
weighed 710 lbs. Nett. 

"7. At home all day. In the afternoon Mr. 
Edward Smith came. 

"8. Went to Pohick Church and returnd to 
Dinner. Mr. Smith went to Colo. Fairfax's 
and returnd to Dinner, and Mr. Stedlar went 
away after Breakft." 


(FEBRUARY, 1771) 

"Where (3 how my time is Spent. 

"1st. At the Mill in the forenoon and after- 
noon. Doctr. Rumney came here before 
Dinner and stayd all Night. 
"2. At the Mill and where my People was 
at work on the Race in the forenoon and 
afternoon. Mr. Rutherford and Price Posey 
came here in the Evening. . . . 
"6. Rid to my Mill by the Ferry in the fore- 
noon and afternoon. Price Posey came here 
this Evening. 
"7. Price Posey went away. I rid to the 

Mill and Dam at the head of the Race in the 
forenoon and afternoon. 
"8. Rid to my Mill and Tumbling Dam in 
the forenoon and afternoon. Doctr. Rum- 
ney dind here and went away afterwds. 
"9. Attempted to go a hunting, but pre- 
vented by Rain. Rid to the Mill in the fore 
and afternoon. 

"10. At home all day. Mr. Val Crawford 
came to Dinner." 

"Remarks and Occs. 

"5 th. Turn'd the Water of Doeg Run into 
my Mill Race, which seemed to afford Water 
enough for both Mills, one of which is con- 
stantly employd in Grinding up my own 

"10. Began to Haul the Sein, tho few fish 
were catchd, and those of the Shad kind, 
owing to the coolness of the Weather. Many 
Shad had been catchd on the Maryland shore. 
"11. Obliged to send a hand to the Mill to 
assist in Packing, etca. 

"17. Began to Plant Corn at my Mill Plan- 

"20. Began to Plant Ditto at Muddy hole. 
"2 5. Began Ditto at Doeg Run. 
"2 5. The Herring began to run in large 
Shoals, but were checkd again by the cool 


"2. Set out with Colo. Bassett for Williams- 
burg, and reachd Town about 12 O'clock. 
Dined at Mrs. Dawson's and went to the 

"3. Dined at the Speaker's and went to the 
Play; after wch. Drank a Bowl or two of 
Punch at Mrs. Campbell's. 
"4. Dined at Mrs. Campbell's (and paid for 
Dinner and Club), and went up to Eltham 
with Colos. Bassett and Lewis. 
"5. At Eltham all day. 

"6. Returnd to Williamsburg by 1 1 Oclock 
with Colo. Bassett and Colo. Lewis. Dined 
at Mrs. Vobes; and Suppd at Anderson's. 
"7. Dined at Mrs. Dawson's and Spent the 
Evening at Anderson's. 

"8. Dined at Southall's with Colo. Robt. 
Fairfax and some other Gentlmn., and went 
to the Play." 


"Id. Began my Wheat Harvest at Muddy 
hole and Doeg Run, in the following man- 
ner, Viz. At Doeg Run with the two Davy's, 
and two Sons of Brummil, as Cradler's; and 
the Wheat being rather green, no regular 
assortment of Cradlers was allotted to them 
as yet. 

"At Muddy hole, Palmer (who did not 
work himself, but only acted as an In- 
structer) and Six of the youngest Cradlers 

"6. Began in the Neck with Mike and Tom, 
and three White Men; but as hands were 
Shifted from place to place there were some- 
times more and sometimes less in each Field." 


"Tuesday, \Uh. Went to my Neck Planta- 
tion and completed the Acct. of my Stock 
there, except that of the Hogs, which stand 


A grey dray Stallion . . 


Buck a Sorrel, 16 yr. old > 

Gilbert a black, 

17 Do. 

Randolph a Grey, 

7 Do. 

Doctr. a Grey 

7 Do. 

Prentice a Bay 

10 Do. 

Jolly a Black 

9 Do. 


Dick a White 

12 Do. 


Grunt a Bay 

9 Do. 

Pompey a Bay 

14 Do. 

Diamond White 

9 Do. 

Possum Grey 

10 Do.^ 

Jack Black 

10 Do. 


Carried over 


rut — a black Mare 5 yrs. 

Fly Dark brown 


9 Do. 

Betty White Stockg 

Punch grey flea bittn. 


Jenny light grey 

9 Do. 



11 Do. 

Fanny Black 

9 Do. 

Overseer Black 


A brown Horse 
Bright Bay rising 
Black Do 

Brown Mealy Co'd 

Black Small 
Iron Grey 
Black bald face 

A Grey Spring Colt 

Dark bay 



Black — rising 

Dark brown 


Black rising 

Black Spring Colt 


















Unbroke Mares 

In all 


Cattle Bulls y'g 


Working Oxen 


Fatting Steers in Corn field 




Heifers 6 yrs old 


3 yrs old 


2 yrs old 


1 yr old 


Spring — Cow Calves 

19 5! 

Washington the Farmer 


Steers full grown 18 

4 yrs old 2 
3 yrs old 4 
2 yrs old 7 
1 yr old 3 

Spring Bull calves 11 45 

Cows brot. to the Home 
for Milk and to go back 

Total Cattle 


Rams 7 

Ewes 92 

Weathers 12 

Ditto in Corn field 16 




Weathers brot. to Ho. Ho. 42 


Tools and hnplemts. 

A Waggon Saddle and 

Gier for 4 Horses 1 
An Oxe Cart — good 1 

Ditto — not good 1 2 

Oxe Chains 2 

Belts for Tongues 2 

Yokes, Rings &ca. 

Bar Shear Plows 9 
Two pr. Iron traces to each 18 

Old Bridles for ditto 18 

N.B. These Traces serve the 


Hilling Hoes helved 20 

unhelved pretty g. 3 

indifferent 2 

At the Smith Shop 2 27 

Mattocks but indifft. 6 

Ditto said to have come 

to the Home Ho. 7 13 

Grubbing Hoes indifft. 3 

Axes 7 

Ditto at Smith's Shop 1 

Ditto old Iron 1 9 

Iron Wedges — pairs 3 

Open Iron Wire Sieve 1 

Sand Sieve 1 2 

Note these to be sent to the Home 

Harvest Rakes 5 only gd. 13 

Pitch forks 1 

Half Bushels — new 1 

Old— Do. 1 2 

Plantation Gun 1 

"Wednesday, \6th. . . . Went early in the 
Morning to take an acct of my Stocks, etca. 
at Doeg Run and Muddy hole Plantns. 

"At the first 
height age 
Dabster, a grey. . 14 1 /- 




Workers 2 

Buck, Bay 14 

Nancy, Bay 14 

From Camp, Ditto 14% 

Fly, Ditto 13 

Brandy, Ditto ... 1 3 % 
Fancy, Black 13 

, Sorrel 13 

, Ditto 13 

Bonny Bay very 

Englh. Hunter 

Brown 15 

Grey mare bot. at 

Bristol Do. 

Dray . Black Camp Do. 3 

Bay likely in foal 14 6 
Bay Roan white 

face 14 5 

Sorrel 14/ 2 

Black Snip on ye 

Nose 13 

Iron grey — dark. .14 3 

Black from Huster 2 

Black Star and snip likely . 2 

Bay — white face 1 

Black — long star 1 

Bay near hind foot wh . 1 

Bay — small star 1 

Bay (blood near hind f. 

We 1 

Bay — star and snip 1 


A Grey. Snip .14 3 

Bay Roan — wh. face 1 

Sorrell Snip 1 

Dark Grey 1 

Grey Colt frm. Bristl. M. 

It is not certain whether 
these are horses or Mares 
not having distinguished 
them on the Spot at the 
time — 


Rams 7 

Ewes 32 

Weathers 7 

Do. in Meadow f atg 7 14 

Total 53 

Old Cows in ye Mead 2 

"N. B. The Tools not being got up no 
acct. was taken of them at this time. 

'Muddy hole Plantation 

Jockey — a black 13 y t 

^ i 

Diamond — Ditto . . .14 

Rankins 14 

Fly — a Grey 14 J4 

Jenny — Brown 1 3 l / 4 

Fenwick — Dun Sorrel. . 13 J/2 
Fancy — Grey 1 3 Y 4 

White 13 .... 7 

Bay— Small Star &ca. .13 .... 5 

Bay — long blaze 13 .... 5 

Bay — very small Star. 13 .... 5 
Dark Bay sml. Star and 

Snp 13 

Dark Brown — Simpson . 1 3 l /z ■ ■ ■ ■ 3 

Bay — midlg. likely 1 

Bay — Small Star Spring . . 
Black — sml. Star Spring 
Brown Boy — crooked blaze 

13 hands high 5 yrs. old 

Grey unlikely 2 

Bay — sml. Star unlikely 

Grey — natural pacer — spg 



Working Oxen 


Heifers 1 yr. old 

Cow Calves . this Spring . . . 

Steers — full grown 8 

2 years old 2 

1 year old 1 

In all 31 Male Calves 


Working Oxen 7 

Fatting Steers in Meadow 2 


Heifers 4 yrs. old 

3 yrs. old 
2 yrs. old 
1 yr. old 
Spring Calves 








Steers full grown 

3 years old 
2 yrs. old . 
1 yr. old 

Spring Calves 5 22 


Total 69 


Tools and Implements 

A good Oxe Cart — 2 Oxe yokes 
& Iron Rings — Compleat 

Oxe Chain 

Bar shear plows 

Iron Traces — pairs 

Haims. Collars, Bridles &ca. Compt. 

2 spare colters 













Honor to George Washington 

Axes — includg. 1 at the Home Ho 4 

Iron Wedges — pairs 1 

Hilling Hoes 11 

Pitch fork 1 

A Wheat Fan 1 

Half Bushel 1 

"The Hogs at all the plantations running 
in the woods after the most, no acct. could 
be taken of them." 


"Saturday [October] 10th. . . .On our 
return we stopped at the seats of General 
and Mr. Gouvernr. Morris, and viewed a 
barn, of which I had heard the latter speak 
much, belonging to his farm — but it was 
not of a construction to strike my fancy — 
nor did the conveniences of it at all 
answer their cost. From hence we pro- 
ceeded to Harlaem, where we were met by 
Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Adams and Mrs. 
Smith. Dined at the tavern kept by a 
Capt. Mariner, and came home in the 

(JANUARY, 1790) 

"Friday, 22d. Exercised on horseback in the 

"Called in my ride on the Baron de 
Polnitz, to see the operation of his (Win- 
law's) threshing machine. The effect was, 
the heads of the wheat being seperated 
from the straw, as much of the first run 
through the mill in 15 minutes as made 
half a bushel of clean wheat — allowing 8 
working hours in the 24, this would yield 
16 bushels pr. day. Two boys are suffici- 
ent to turn the wheel, feed the mill, and 
remove the threshed grain after it has 
passed through it. Two men were un- 
able, by winnowing, to clean the wheat as 
it passed through the mill, but a common 
Dutch fan, with the usual attendance, 

would be more than sufficient to do it. 
The grain passes through without bruising 
and is well separated from the charl. 
Women, or boys of 12 or 14 years of age, 
are fully adequate to the management of 
the mill or threshing machine. Upon the 
whole, it appears to be an easier, more ex- 
peditious, and much cleaner way of get- 
ting out grain than by the usual mode of 
threshing; and vastly to be preferred to 
treading, which is hurtful to horses, filthy 
to the wheat, and not more expeditious, 
considering the numbers that are employed 
in the process from the time the head is 
begun to be formed until the grain has 
passed finally through the fan." 


"Sunday, [June] 12ih. About Sunrise we 
were off — breakfasted at Dumfries and ar- 
rived at Mt. Vn. to Dinr. From Monday 
13 th until Monday the 27th (being the 
day I had appointed to meet the Com- 
missioners under the residence act, at 
Georgetown) I remained at home; and spent 
my time in daily rides to my severl. farms 
and in receiving many visits." 


"I know of no pursuit in which more 
real and important services can be rendered 
to any country, than by improving its agri- 
culture, — its breed of useful animals — and 
other branches of a husbandman's cares: — 
nor can I conceive any plan more conducive 
to this end than the one you have intro- 
duced for bringing to view the actual state 
of them in all parts of the Kingdom." 

"For the sake of humanity, it is devoutly 
to be wished, that the manly employment 
of Agriculture, and the humanizing benefit 
of Commerce, would supersede the waste of 
war, and the rage of conquest; that the 
swords might be turned into ploughshares, 
the spears into pruning-hooks, and, as the 

Scriptures express it, 'the Nations learn 
war' no more." 


"It must be obvious to every man, who 
considers the agriculture of this country, 
(even in the best improved parts of it) 
and compares the produce of our lands with 
those of other countries, no ways superior 
to them in natural fertility, how miserably 
defective we are in the management of 
them; and that if we do not fall on a bet- 
ter mode of treating them, how ruinous it 
will prove to the landed interest. Ages will 
not produce a systematic change without 
public attention and encouragement; but a 
few years more of increased sterility will 
drive the Inhabitants of the Atlantic 
States westwardly for support; whereas if 
they were taught how to improve the old, 
instead of going in pursuit of new and pro- 
ductive soil, they would make those acres 
which now scarcely yield them any thing, 
turn out beneficial to themselves — to the 
Mechanics, by supplying them with the staff 
of life on much cheaper terms — to the 
Merchants, by encreasing their Commerce 
and exportation — and to the Community 
generally, by the influx of Wealth resulting 


"I have endeavored both in a public and 
private character to encourage the establish- 
ment of Boards of Agriculture in this 
Country, but hitherto in vain; . . . Since 
the first Establishment of the National 
Board of Agriculture in Great Britain, I 
have considered it as one of the most valu- 
able Institutions of modern times, and 
conducted with so much ability and zeal as 
it appears to be under the auspices of Sir 
John Sinclair, must be productive of great 
advantages to the Nation and to Mankind 
in General." 

Selected Authorities 

Ballagh, James Curtis — History of 
Slavery in Virginia. Baltimore, Johns 
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Washington the Farmer 


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ones of letters to Young and to Sinclair.) 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 

Wertenbaker, Thomas J. — Planters of 
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+ ? 

Mount Vernon 

From a rare aquatint, engraved by Francis Jukes after Alexander Robertson, 1800, in the William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Pamphlet Number Five 

Washington as a Religious Mae 

By John C. Fitzpatrick 

Part I 

George Washington and Religion 

George Washington 

From a contemporary silhouette 

IN examination of the religion of 
George Washington should be un- 
hampered by any allegiance to 
traditional reminiscences. While 
speculation in relation to certain contro- 
versal questions may be interesting, it is at 
best of doubtful value in arriving at definite 
historical conclusions and exerts an inevi- 
table temptation to wander far afield in the 

realm of mere conjecture. The safe 
course in so important an investigation lies in 
consulting the incontestable evidences of re- 
ligious faith left by George Washington him- 
self. Therefore, in these pages the writer 
has carefully adhered to those references in 
relation to Washington's religion of estab- 
lished documentary authenticity. 

George Washington was born on February 
11, 1731 (old style calendar), or February 


22, 1732 (new style calendar), and on 
April 5, a little less than two months later, 
was baptized in the orthodox Episcopalian 
manner; two god-fathers and one god- 
mother being recorded as standing for him. 

After his baptism, George, in a religious 
way, disappears from view for a number of 
years, and when he again emerges he does 
so in a purely boyish character, for he 
scrawls his youthful signature over the title- 
page of his father's copy of the Sermons of 
the Bishop of Exeter. In this assault upon 
the title, or title-page, of a dignitary of the 
Established Church may be found, perhaps, 
the germ of the cherry tree and the I-cannot- 
tell-a-lie fable. Perhaps the cherry tree was 
really this book of sermons in arboreal dis- 
guise and the pen was the hatchet. 

A man's religious ideas are peculiarly per- 
sonal and to attempt an analysis of them 
after the man himself has passed off the stage 
of life is a difficult matter at best; but it does 
not solve the difficulty to present merely the 
laudatory opinions of his contemporaries. 
We cannot rest content with this in Wash- 
ington's case and will try, therefore, to form 
an opinion by examining Washington's own 
self-record for: His personal record of church 
attendance; his estimate of the value of re- 
ligious practices among the people at large; 
his desire and effort to encourage a recogni- 
tion of God's goodness and to inculcate in the 
people a spirit of gratitude towards the 
Deity; and, lastly, his own expressions of 
opinion respecting God. An examination of 
these evidences as they develop in Washing- 
ton's own writings will give a fairly bal- 
anced and accurate picture of Washington's 
religious attitude. 


The scanty material of his youthful days 
is relatively unimportant and the record 
practically starts with the time when he was 
commanding the Virginia troops on the 
western frontier, after Braddock's defeat. 
At Fort Loudoun, Winchester, at the age of 
twenty-four, this colonel of Virginia militia, 
on Saturday, Septeember 18, 175 6, ordered 
that "The men parade tomorrow morning at 
beating the long roll, with their arms and 
ammunition clean and in good order, and to 
be marched by the Sergeants of the respec- 
tive companies to the Fort, there to remain 

Washington as a Religious Man 


until prayers are over." It is plain that the 
danger of an Indian surprise attack was a 
factor, as the men were sent to prayers under 
arms; also it is plain that Washington took 
it for granted that the officers would display 
some interest and was annoyed that they did 
not, for the next Saturday came a more 
pointed order: "The men are to parade at 
beating the long roll tomorrow morning at 
10 o'clock; and to march as usual to the 
Fort to attend Divine Service. The officers 
are to be present at calling the roll, and see 
that the men do appear in the most decent 
manner they can." Every Sunday thereafter 
the men were marched to prayers and in the 
middle of November the Sunday service was 
made a standing order for the future. 

CHURCH GOING (1759-1799) 

We have no means of judging the effect 
of these rough, hard, and brutal years upon 
Washington's religious views, for there is 
nothing of value for this purpose in the 
record until after his marriage with Mrs. 
Custis and his settling down to a normal 
life at Mount Vernon. We cannot state 
positively that Washington became a church- 
goer, or a more consistent church-goer, after 
his marriage with Mrs. Custis, but scrutiny 
of the records induces the opinion that she 
was an influence in this respect. I have 
checked up, as closely as possible, his record 
of church attendance, from the earliest 
available date to the end of his life, and 
though there are unfortunate gaps which can 
never be filled, some interesting results are 
obtainable from the eighteen years for which 
data has survived. 

After his marriage Washington attended 
church at Pohick, and, later, Christ Church, 
Alexandria, on an average of once a month. 
Both churches were distant from Mount Ver- 
non so that it was something of a journey 
to reach them by coach and we find many 
entries in Washington's diaries of his being 
prevented from attending by the carriage be- 
ing away from Mount Vernon, by his start- 
ing for church and having the carriage break 
down on the way (a commentary upon the 
state of the Virginia roads in colonial times) , 
or of his nearly reaching Pohick, only to be 
met by a message that the minister was too 
sick to conduct the services. There are a few 
instances of Washington's illness and once he 
was held at home by the toothache. 

A particularly interesting diary entry is 
that of May 4, 1760: "Set out for Fredk. to 
see my negroes that lay ill of the Small Pox. 
Took Church in my way to Coleman's." 
Most of us have forgotten that Washington 
rode post-haste, from Mount Vernon across 
the Blue Ridge, into the Shenandoah Valley 
to see that his slaves received proper care and 
attention. He collected doctors, nurses, medi- 
cines, and blankets and did everything hu- 
manly possible to aid. Of course the misan- 
thrope will say that he was only interested in 
saving his property and that he ran no per- 
sonal risk as he was immune from the dis- 
ease; but if we grant this privilege to as- 

sign motives for actions, we are entitled to 
the same privilege ourselves and, in this case, 
we prefer to think that a decent humanity 
was an element of weight. If material wel- 
fare, the saving of slave property, was the 
main motive of this hurried journey, would 
it have risked an hour's delay? It seems rea- 
sonable to look upon this stop for church as a 
natural act of faith and trust in the Al- 

The important point established by a close 
check up of Washington's church attendance 
is that throughout his public life, in times of 
political stress and strain, George Washing- 
ton went to church oftener than he did in 
times of national calm and quiet. After the 
Stamp Act flurry subsided, Washington re- 
lapsed again into his once a month church at- 
tendance. On August 19, 1765, we have 
record of his taking the oath to conform to 
the doct) ine and discipline of the Church of 
England "as by Law established" and during 
the yeai 1774, when political relations with 
the Mother Country were becoming danger- 
ously strained and no one in the colonies was 
able to foresee the outcome, he went to 
church twice, and sometimes three times a 
month. It was on June 1, 1774, the day the 
Boston Port Bill went into effect, that he 
"went to Church and fasted all day." A 
very little knowledge of the times makes it 
plain that the outlook was dark and gloomy 
for the colonies and nowhere could they see 
ways and means of saving themselves from 
what they felt was tyranny. The political 
situation seemed to Washington beyond the 
power of man to control, but he was far 
from being "the bewildered giant" a recent 
biographer calls him; rather we incline to the 
opinion that Washington's more frequent at- 
tendance at church at this time shows the 
direct opposite of bewilderment. 



In the hectic days of the outbreak of the 
Revolutionary War, George Washington and 
religion do not appear together, so far as 
documentary evidence goes, beyond a state- 
ment in his letter to Martha, that he relied 
confidently "on that Providence which has 
heretofore preserved and been bountiful to 
me." In the manly speech with which he 
accepted the appointment of commander-in- 
chief of the army he made no reference to 
God or to heaven; but one month after tak- 
ing command of the army reference to pray- 
ers and church service again appears in the 
general orders for August 5, 1775, at Cam- 
bridge. These orders directed that "the 
Church be cleared tomorrow and the Revd. 
Mr. Doyles will perform Divine Service 
therein at ten o'clock." 

But it is the expedition against Canada, 
undertaken shortly thereafter, that first re- 
veals the broadmindedness of Washington 
toward religion. It is difficult to see the 
path by which the commander-in-chief 
reached this attitude of mind, singular in its 
contrast to that of the majority of the pa- 

triots of 1775, both in the army and in the 
Continental Congress; but it reveals George 
Washington, even at this early date, as the 
remarkable man of the Revolution. The 
first article of the instructions which the 
commander-in-chief drew up for the guid- 
ance of Colonel Benedict Arnold reads: 
"You are immediately, on their march from 
Cambridge, to take command of the detach- 
ment of the Continental Army against Que- 
bec and use all possible expedition as the 
winter season is now advancing and the Suc- 
cess of this Enterprise (under God) depends 
Wholly upon the Spirit with which it is 
pushed; and the favourable Disposition of 
the Canadians and Indians." And the 14th 
instruction is in these remarkable words: 
"As the Contempt of the Religion of a 
Country by ridiculing any of its Ceremonies 
or affronting its Ministers or Votaries has 
ever been deeply resented You are to be par- 
ticularly careful to restrain every Officer and 
Soldier from such Imprudence and Folly and 
to punish every Instance of it. On the other 
hand as far as lays in your Power you are to 
protect and support the free Exercise of the 
Religion of the Country and the undisturbed 
Enjoyments of the Rights of Conscience in 
religious Matters with your utmost Influence 
and Authority." The letter to Arnold en- 
closing these instructions emphasized the 
point: "I also give it in charge to you to 
avoid all Disrespect or Contempt of the 
Religion of the Country and its Ceremonies. 
Prudence, policy and a true Christian Spirit 
will lead us to look with compassion upon 
their Errors without insulting them. While 
we are contending for our own Liberty, we 
should be very cautious of violating the 
Rights of Conscience in others, ever con- 
sidering that God alone is the judge of the 
Hearts of men and to him only in this case, 
they are answerable." The delightful human 
egoism in that compassion for error is readily 
forgiven and more than canceled by the 
rights of conscience principle that follows it. 


A dominant reason for the emphatic warn- 
ings may be found in Washington's recogni- 
tion of the prejudices against "popery" ex- 
isting in New England in 1775, which had 
so valiantly assisted in ruining all chance of 
a Canadian alliance in the Congress of 1774. 
This same, militant Protestantism, two 
months after Arnold's instructions were 
drafted, drew from Washington a blast of 
anger which shows that the Virginia Episco- 
palian was a better man, a better patriot, and 
a better politician than the native sons of the 
colony that had started the rebellion. On 
November 5, the general orders announced 
that "The Commander in chief has been ap- 
prized of a design form'd for the observance 
of the ridiculous and childish custom of 
burning the Effigy of the pope. He cannot 
help expressing his surprise that there should 
be Officers and Soldiers in this armv so void 
of common sense as not to see the impropri- 


Honor to George Washington 

ety of such a step at this juncture; at a time 
when we are solliciting and have really ob- 
tained the friendship of the people of 
Canada, whom we ought to consider as 
Brethren embarked in the same Cause: the 
defence of the general Liberty of America. 
At such a juncture and in such circum- 
stances, to be insulting their Religion, is so 
monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; 
indeed instead of offering the most remote 
insult, it is our duty to address public thanks 
to these our Brethren for every late happy 
Success over the common enemy in Canada." 
Needless to say Pope's Night was not cele- 
brated in the army in 1775, nor at any time 

Just ten days later we find the announce- 
ment of the victory at St. John's, Canada, in 
these words: "The Commander in chief is 
confident the army under his immediate di- 
rection will show their gratitude to Provi- 
dence for thus favoring the cause of Free- 
dom and America by their thankfulness to 
God, and by their zeal and perseverance in 
this righteous cause, continue to deserve his 
future blessings." Next came the news, two 
weeks later, of the capture of Montreal and 
the orders announced that "The General 
hopes such frequent favours from divine 
Providence will animate every American to 
continue to exert his utmost in the defence 
of the Liberties of his Country, as it would 
now be the basest ingratitude to the Al- 
mighty and to their Country to shew any 
the least backwardness in the public 

The naivete of this reasoning is of value 
as indicative of George Washington's mental 
attitude towards the Supreme Being and, re- 
gardless of other conclusions, there is in it a 
simple, childlike faith which commands re- 
spect. Was there ever a war since the 
Christian era when it was not claimed by 
both combatants that God was on their side? 
But George Washington has given the idea a 
distinctly American flavor by calling on the 
Continental soldier to help God. 


Then comes a personal note of soul hu- 
mility in his letter to Joseph Reed in Janu- 
ary, 1776: "I have scarcely," wrote Wash- 
ington, "emerged from one difficulty before 
I have plunged into another. How it will 
end, God in his great goodness will direct. I 
am thankful for his protection to this time." 
One thing that speedily became clear to the 
mind of George Washington was that the 
military and governmental difficulties of 
America were not, and could not, be properly 
met without the help of God. They were 
too great and America was too feeble, in 
Washington's judgment, to admit of their 
successful solution without help from on 
high, and certainly the verdict of history as 
to the magnitude of these difficulties has con- 
firmed Washington's judgment, though the 
muse is still too profane to admit the accu- 
racy of his religious belief. Also, instead of 
becoming opinionated, instead of developing 

an ego, instead of becoming confident of his 
abilities as he succeeded in surmounting one 
difficulty after another, George Washington 
became more and more convinced that the 
hand of God was in those triumphs and 
greater and greater became his spiritual hu- 
mility, although weak dependence on his 
Creator was no part of his character. This 
humility in success and willingness to accept 
failure without complaint is exemplified at 
the end of the siege of Boston. You recall 
the seizure and fortification of Dorchester 
Heights and how the British prepared for an- 
other Bunker Hill. They attempted to cross 
the bay and storm the works, and Bunker 
Hill would have been child's play compared 
to the slaughter that would have ensued. 
You recall also, that the red-coats were pre- 
vented from crossing the water by a sudden 
and violent storm which lasted so long that 
by the time it was over Howe felt that the 
works had become too strong for him, gave 
over the attempt and evacuated the town. 
Here is Washington's comment to his 
brother John on the occurrence: "That this 
remarkable interposition of Providence is for 
some wise purpose, I have not a doubt." And 
this was rather an extraordinary thing to 
say. With all preparations made, all con- 
tingencies provided for, and with a suffici- 
ency of ammunition in the hands of the 
Americans conditions were different from 
those prevailing at Bunker Hill, and it is 
quite reasonable to assume that Howe's at- 
tempt would have resulted in the complete 
annihilation of the British army. 

WORSHIP IN THE ARMY (1776-1777) 

The setting up of the actual machinery of 
religion in the Continental Army affords 
some evidence of value for our purpose. The 
Congress authorized the employment of 
chaplains, after Washington had urged it, 
and the general orders of July 9, 1776, when 
the Army was in New York City, directed 
that: "The Colonels or commanding officers 
of each regiment are directed to procure for 
Chaplains accordingly, persons of good 
character and exemplary lives. To see that 
all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a 
suitable respect and attend carefully upon re- 
ligious exercises. The blessing and protection 
of Heaven are at all times necessary but 
especially so in times of public distress and 
danger. The General hopes and trusts, that 
every officer and man will endeavor so to 
live and act as becomes a Christian Soldier 
defending the dearest rights and Liberties of 
his country." And in the announcement, 
in these same orders, of the Declaration of 
Independence, the commander-in-chief hoped 
that "this important Event will serve as a 
fresh incentive to every officer and Soldier to 
act with Fidelity and Courage as knowing 
that now the peace and safety of his Country 
depends (under God) solely on the success 
of our arms." Here again we have the phrase 
"under God" which was so important an im- 
promptu addition to Abraham Lincoln's 
Gettysburg Address. Was Lincoln guilty of 

plagiarism? Or was it that the simple re- 
ligious fervor of our two greatest Americans 
was closely akin? 

In January, 1777, the Continental Army 
for the first time since the siege of Boston, 
established a permanent encampment base. 
This was at Morristown, New Jersey, and 
among the early things attended to was the 
practice of regular Sunday worship for the 
troops. On April 12, a Saturday, it was 
ordered that "All the troops in Morristown 
except the guards, are to attend divine wor- 
ship tomorrow at the second Bell; the Officers 
commanding the Corps, are to take special 
care to have their men clean and decent, and 
that they are to march in proper order to the 
place of worship." For the next week, "All 
the troops in town (not on duty) to attend 
divine service tomorrow agreeable to the 
orders of the 12th instant." The conveni- 
ence of a church building was an element in 
Morristown and the army paid due observ- 
ance to Sunday. It may be noted, however, 
that only the troops in the town itself were 
ordered to church, for no building would 
have been large enough to hold the army 
encamped in the vicinity. When the en- 
campment was shifted to Middlebrook the 
well-known order against profanity was is- 
sued on May 31. Washington characterized 
it as the "foolish and scandulous practice 
of profane swearing" and "As a means to 
abolish this and every other species of immor- 
ality Brigadiers are enjoyned to take ef- 
fectual care, to have divine service duly 
performed in their respective brigades." At 
Middlebrook, also, on June 28, the orders 
were "That all Chaplains are to perfom di- 
vine service tomorrow and on every succeed- 
ing Sunday, with their respective brigades 
and regiments, where the situation will pos- 
sibly admit of it. And the Commanding 
officers of corps are to see that they attend 
themselves with officers of all ranks setting 
the example. The Commander in chief ex- 
pects an exact compliance with this order, 
and that it be observed in the future as an 
invariable rule of practice. And every neg- 
lect will be considered not only as a breach 
of orders, but a disregard to decency, virtue 
and religion." 


The announcement (at Peter Wentz's, 
Worcester Township, Pennsylvania, October 
18, 1777) of the surrender of Burgoyne, con- 
cluded with the words: "Let every face 
brighten and every heart expand with grate- 
ful joy and praise to the supreme disposer of 
all Events, who has granted to us this sig- 
nal success. The Chaplains of the army are 
to prepare short discourses, suit'd to the joy- 
ful occasion and to deliver them to their 
several corps and brigades at 5 o'clock this 
afternoon." Perhaps Washington's informa- 
tion as to the events in the north was such 
as convinced him that onlv God could have 
gained a victory for General Horatio Gates! 

After the wearing campaign of 1777, 
when the battlescarred troops were on their 

Washington as a Religious Man 


march to Valley Forge for the winter, the 
commander-in-chief issued orders on De- 
cember 17, for the observance of a thanks- 
giving day: "Tomorrow being the day set 
apart by the Honorable Congress for public 
Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling 
us devoutly to express our grateful ac- 
knowledgments to God for the manifold 
blessings he has granted us. The General di- 
rects that the Army remain in its present 
quarters and that the Chaplains perform di- 
vine service with their several corps and bri- 
gades. And earnestly exhorts all officers and 
soldiers whose absence is not indispensably 
necessary, to attend with reverence the so- 
lemnities of the day." 

The suffering at Valley Forge, the terrible 
weather, and the activities needful to secure 
enough food for the troops explain, to some 
extent, why church services were not men- 
tioned during that winter. Also many of 
the chaplains were absent from camp and 
there were a number of vacancies among 
them, as shown by the orders of May 2, 
1778: "The Commander in chief directs that 
divine services be performed every Sunday at 
1 1 o'clock in those brigades to which there 
are chaplains — those which have none to at- 
tend the places of worship nearest to them. 
It is expected that Officers of all Ranks will 
by their attendance set the example to their 
men. While we are zealously performing the 
duties of good citizens and Soldiers we cer- 
tainly ought not to be inattentive to the 
higher duties of religion. To the distin- 
guished character of Patriot it should be our 
highest glory to add the more distinguished 
character of Christian. The Signal instances 
of providential Goodness which we have ex- 
perienced and which have now almost 
crowned our labours with complete success, 
demand from us in a peculiar manner the 
warmest returns of Gratitude and Piety to 
the Supreme Author of all Good." 

ALLIANCE (1778) 

The statement that the cause of independ- 
ence was almost crowned with complete suc- 
cess on May 2, 1778, may be considered 
slightly optimistic; but it raises the interest- 
ing question as to what were the rumors in 
the army, on that day, as to aid from 
France, for three days later the French al- 
liance was announced: "It having pleased the 
Almighty Ruler of the Universe to defend 
the cause of the United American States, and 
finally to raise up a powerful friend among 
the princes of the Earth, to establish our 
liberty and independence upon a lasting 
foundation; it becomes us to set apart a day 
for gratefully acknowledging the divine 
goodness and celebrating the important event 
which we owe to his divine interposition." 
An echo of this feeling is found in Washing- 
ton's letter to Governor Nelson, of Virginia, 
August 20, 1778. Writing from White 
Plains, New York, he said: "It is not a little 
pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, 
that after two years manoeuvering and 

undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, that 
perhaps ever attended any one contest since 
creation, both armies are brought back to the 
very point they set out from and that the of- 
fending party at the beginning [the British] 
is now reduced to the use of the spade and 
pickaxe for defence. The hand of Providence 
has been so conspicuous in all this that he 
must be worse than an infidel that lacks 
faith, and more than wicked who has not 
gratitude enough to acknowledge his obliga- 
tions." When we find touches of romance 
like this in Washington's writing it raises the 
question as to the accuracy of the prevailing 
concept of the man. Though the romance 
of this appealed to him, even as he wrote he 
added a little touch of human feeling that 
brings him nearer to us, in this deprecatory 
gesture: "But it will be time enough for me 
to turn preacher when my present appoint- 
ment ceases." And in addition to this ro- 
mance and human feeling we can see also a 
touch of dry humor which has been persist- 
ently denied to Washington, but which he 
had in measure. 

SAINT PATRICK (1776-1780) 

Twice during the Revolution the Conti- 
nental Army honored Saint Patrick's Day by 
order of the commander-in-chief. The first 
time was immediately after the evacuation 
of Boston, when the countersign for March 
17, 1776, was "Saint Patrick." And the 
second time was in 1780, when on March 16 
the orders read: "The General congratulates 
the Army on the very interesting proceedings 
of the Parliament of Ireland and of the In- 
habitants of that Country which have been 
lately communicated; not only as they ap- 
pear calculated to remove those heavy and 
tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to 
restore to a brave and Generous People the 
ancient Rights and Freedom and by their 
operation to promote the cause of America — 
Desirous of impressing on the minds of the 
Army, transactions so important in their na- 
ture the General directs that all fatigue and 
working parties cease for tomorrow the 17th 
— a day held in particular regard by the 
People of that Nation. At the same time he 
orders this he persuades himself that the 
celebration of the day will not be attended 
by the least rioting or disorder. The Officers 
to be at their quarters in camp and the 
troops of each state line are to keep within 
their own encampment." The next day, 
March 17, the parole was "Saints" and the 
countersigns "Patrick" and "Shela." 

Washington was well aware of the healthy 
recklessness of many of his stalwarts and 
knew the Irish liking for a good rough and 
tumble. There is in these orders also, a 
recognition of the existence of that feeling 
which had prompted the attempted celebra- 
tion of Pope's Night in 1775, so it was wise 
caution that guarded against a possible 
Donnybrook Fair in camo. 

Two more general orders should be noted. 
On the day after the surrender of Cornwallis, 
October 20, 1781, Washington's greatest 

military triumph of the war, he directed 
that "Divine Service is to be performed to- 
morrow in the several Brigades and Divisions. 
The Commander in chief earnestly recom- 
mends that the troops not on duty should 
universally attend with that seriousness of 
Deportment and gratitude of Heart which 
the recognition of such reiterated and aston- 
ishing interpositions of Providence demands 
of us." 


In the midst of this overwhelming victory 
George Washington's mind reverted to the 
repeated and astonishing interposition of 
Providence in behalf of America, though he 
can, by no means, be classed as a religious 
enthusiast. General George Washington 
ordered that the cessation of hostility should 
begin on April 19, 1783, eight years to 
the day from the commencement of hos- 
tilities at Lexington. It would have been 
just as easy for him to have ordered hos- 
tilities to cease on April 17, or April 18, 
or April 20, for that matter, but Wash- 
ington, the cold, the austere, suddenly 
displays a sense of the poetic, in deliber- 
ately planning for this precise date. The 
orders for ceasing hostilities display some of 
those traits which have been ignored: "The 
Commander in chief orders the Cessation of 
Hostilities between the United States and the 
King of Great Britain to be publickly pro- 
claimed tomorrow at the New Building and 
that the Proclamation which will be com- 
municated herewith, be read tomorrow 
evening at the head of every regiment and 
corps of the army. After which the Chap- 
lains with the several brigades will render 
thanks to Almighty God for all his mercies, 
particularly for his overruling the wrath of 
Man to his own glory and causing the 
rage of war to cease amongst the nations." 
After warning that no disorder or "licenti- 
ousness" will be tolerated he directed "An 
extra ration of liquor to be issued to every 
man tomorrow, to drink Perpetual Peace, 
Independence and Happiness to the United 
States of America." 


No man knew better than Washington 
the frightfully thin ice over which the 
United States of America had skated to 
victory. Every weakness of the govern- 
mental and military machine had been laid 
bare before him at one time or another. 
Time after time he had seen the cause 
dragged back from the brink of ruin by an 
unexpected event, or an unforeseen happen- 
ing, when he was well aware that no human 
effort could save it. That he himself had 
tried his utmost did not blind his eyes to the 
fact that this utmost, of itself, was not 
sufficient. The situation has its puzzle for 
us. Washington was the essence of practi- 
cality; but the instincts of his old horse- 
racing and fox-hunting days made him ever 
ready to take the sporting chance. 


Honor to George Washington 

And sporting chances he took. Long 
Island was one. Trenton was another, 
Germantown another, and even Yorktown it- 
self was largely a sporting chance. All of 
these chances, however, were backed by the 
most painstaking efforts. Yet the man de- 
clined to grant anything to the heathen god 
of Luck and, when the seemingly impossi- 
ble became a success, when the weak spot in 
his plan, of which he was well aware, be- 
came strong through no apparent human ar- 
rangement, George Washington's firm belief 
in the righteousness of human liberty, drew 
from him frank acknowledgment of God's 
aid. Many times his plans failed; but when 
they did he merely assumed that Providence, 
for some inscrutable reason, had intervened. 
He accepted failure with calmness and began 
at once to build again for success. There is 
no trace of supersition in Washington; his 
faith was too strong and simple for that and 
it is this simplicity that makes analysis diffi- 
cult. Napoleon's cynical remark that 
"Heaven is on the side of the heaviest ar- 
tillery," and the claim that he was the man 
of destiny shrink to mere flippancies in com- 
parison with George Washington's steadfast 
faith in God's aid to liberty. If ever there 
was a man who could rightfully claim to be 
a man of destiny it was George Washington; 
but he was the last man to entertain such a 


There is a final group of papers among 
the Washington manuscripts which should be 
drawn upon in an effort to analyze Washing- 
ton's religious ideas. Probably no President 
of the United States, certainly no American 
of lesser rank, ever received so many compli- 
mentary addresses as did Washington. He 
was scrupulous in answering them and in 
these answers we find much that is valuable 
for our purpose. We have seen Washington's 
mental attitude toward things religious dur- 
ing the colonial period; the General Orders 
of the Revolutionary War and the diaries 
give his attitude during the Revolution. But 
the replies to these addresses contain what 
may be considered as Washington's mature 
convictions, coming as they do in the last 
years of his life. I shall not quote many. 
The first is the clear, succinct statement in 
the reply to the General Committee of the 
United Baptist Churches in Virginia, in 
May, 1789: "I have often," he wrote, "ex- 
pressed my sentiments that every man con- 
ducting himself as a good citizen, and being 
accountable to God alone for his religious 
opinions, ought to be protected in worship- 
ping the Deity according to the dictates of 
his own conscience. ... If I could have 
entertained the slightest apprehension that 
the Constitution framed in the Convention, 
where I had the honor to preside, might pos- 
sibly endanger the religious rights of any 
ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never 
have placed my signature to it; if I could 
now conceive that the general Government 

might ever be so administered as to render 
liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will 
be persuaded that no one would be more 
zealous than myself to establish effectual 
barriers against the horrors of spiritual 
tyranny, and every species of religious per- 
secution ... be assured, Gentlemen, that 
I entertain a proper sense of your fervent 
supplications to God for my temporal and 
eternal happiness." This acknowledgment 
of appreciation of the value of prayer in ob- 
taining temporal and eternal happiness is 
worth something in generalizing upon 
Washington's belief in an hereafter. 


A note of interest is the diary entry for 
May 27, 1787, in Philadelphia: "Went to the 
Romish Church to high mass." This was 
old St. Mary's and Washington was then at- 
tending the sessions of the Constitutional 
Convention. Could there have been a little 
of the Greek idea here, the same that we 
find in St. Paul's address to the Athenians? 
Two years later, when President, Washing- 
ton made the delightful entry at Pomfret, 
Connecticut (November 8, 1789), while 
touring the eastern states: "It being con- 
trary to law and disagreeable to the People 
of this State (Connecticut) to travel on the 
Sabbath Day — and my horses, after passing 
through such intolerable roads, wanting rest, 
I stayed at Perkins' tavern (which, by-the- 
bye is not a good one,) all day — and a meet- 
ing house being within a few rods of the 
door, I attended morning and evening serv- 
ice, and heard very lame discourses from a 
Mr. Pond." The layman's hearty under- 
standing and sympathy goes out to Wash- 
ington in this experience and the recollection 
of it may help us, in the future, to bear 
similar ills with fortitude. 

A month later, in New York City, we find 
a perfect example of the sense of duty: 
"November 26, Thursday: Being the day ap- 
pointed for a thanksgiving, I went to St. 
Paul's Chapel, though it was most inclement 
and stormy — but few people at Church." 
This was the first national Thanksgiving Day 
under our present government and, as he 
had summoned the nation to give thanks, 
Washington felt that he had to brave the 
elements and appear in church in compliance 
with his own proclamation. It is difficult 
to disentangle Washington's strong sense of 
duty in this from his religious feeling; 
but the two things are properly interchange- 
able in this case and it is doubtful if Wash- 
ington himself could have analyzed them. 

The diary entry for July 3, 1791, at York, 
Pennsylvania, has a bit of dry humor in it 
from our viewpoint: "There being no Episco- 
pal Minister resident in the place, I went to 
hear morning Service performed in the Dutch 
reformed Church — which, being in that lan- 
guage not a word of which I understood 
I was in no danger of becoming a proselyte 
to its religion by the eloquence of the 


To the address of the Pennsylvania 
Quakers, Washington's reply was particularly 
plain and outspoken: "We have reason to re- 
joice in the prospect that the present national 
Government, which by the favour of Di- 
vine Providence, was formed by the common 
counsels and peaceably established with the 
common consent of the People will prove a 
blessing to every denomination of them. . . . 
The liberty enjoyed by the People of these 
States, of worshipping Almighty God agree- 
able to their consciences is not only among 
the choicest of their blessings but also of 
their rights. While men perform their 
social duties faithfully, they do all that 
Society or the State can with propriety de- 
mand or expect; and remain responsible only 
to their Maker for the religion or modes of 
faith which they may prefer to profess. 
Your principles and conduct are well known 
to me, and it is doing the people called 
Quakers no more than justice to say that 
(excepting their declining to share with 
others the burthen of the common defence) 
there is no denomination among us who are 
more exemplary or useful citizens. I assure 
you very explicitly that in my opinion the 
conscientious scruples of all men should be 
treated with delicacy and tenderness, and it 
is my wish and desire that the laws may al- 
ways be as extensively accommodated to 
them, as a due regard to the Protection and 
essential interests of the Nation may justify 
and permit." 

Here is the willingness of the broad- 
minded statesman to admit the rights of 
conscience in religious matters, but the 
practical administrator pointing out with in- 
exorable logic that unless the government 
which guarantees those rights is supported, 
there can be neither rights nor government. 


To this may be joined Washington's reply 
to the Ministers and Ruling Elders of the 
Churches of the Massachusetts and New 
Hampshire Presbyteries: "I am persuaded you 
will permit me to observe that the path of 
true piety is so plain as to require but little 
political direction. To this consideration we 
ought to ascribe the absence of any regula- 
tion respecting religion from the Magna 
Charta of our country. To the guidance of 
the ministers of the gospel this important ob- 
ject is perhaps, more properly committed. 
It will be your care to instruct the ignorant 
and to reclaim the devious and in the progress 
of morality and science, to which our gov- 
ernment will give every furtherance, we 
may confidently expect the advancement of 
true religion and the completion of our 
happiness." This from an Episcopalian to 
Presbyterians of the 18 th century may cer- 
tainly be taken as indicative of Washington's 
belief in the value of religion in education. 
In this reply he also touches upon a point 
made sensitive by our recent experiences with 
the so-called "Fundamentalists," so it is per- 
haps tactful to leave the idea as Washington 

Washington as a Religious Man 


puts it, merely remembering that he believed 
that science as well as religion contributes a 
share to human happiness. 

Catholics are interested naturally in 
Washington's reply to the address made to 
him in December, 1789. In that reply 
Washington expresses the hope "ever to see 
America among the foremost nations in ex- 
amples of justice and liberality. And I pre- 
sume," he wrote, "that your fellow citizens 
will not forget the patriotic part which you 
took in the accomplishment of their revolu- 
tion and the establishment of their govern- 
ment; or the important assistance which 
they received from a nation in which the 
roman catholic religion is professed." 
Washington never completely mastered the 
personal pronouns and the tangle here should 
be ascribed properly to a weakness of the 
head rather than of the heart. 

Washington's reply to the address of the 
Members of the New Church in Baltimore 
has more than passing interest: "We have 
abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land 
the light of truth and reason has triumphed 
over the power of bigotry and superstition 
and that every person may here worship God 
according to the dictates of his own heart. 
In this enlightened age and in this land of 
equal liberty it is our boast that a man's 
religious tenets will not forfeit the protection 
of the law, nor deprive him of the right of 
attaining and holding the highest offices that 
are known in the United States." 

There will be noted throughout these ex- 
tracts a consistent uniformity of expression, 
such an uniformity as could only be based 
upon a habit of mind. There is no evidence 
that Washington thought like the Virginian 
who is credited with saying that while he 
was quite willing to admit there were many 
different ways to heaven, he was quite sure 
that no gentleman would choose any other 
than the Episcopalian way; for we may re- 
call Washington's letter to Lafayette, Au- 

gust 15, 1787: "I am not less ardent in my 
wish that you may succeed in your plan 
of toleration in religious matters. Being no 
bigot myself, I am disposed to indulge the 
professors of Christianity in the church with 
that road to Heaven, which to them shall 
seem most direct, plainest, easiest and least 
liable to exception." 


As a young man Washington probably 
thought as little about religion as any 
healthy, normal youth. There are indications 
that his half-brother Lawrence was of a re- 
ligious turn of mind and George had a great 
deal of affection and admiration for Law- 
rence. At the age of twenty-three he counted 
the bullet-holes in his coat after Braddock's 
defeat and acknowledged, with common- 
sense practicality, that a power higher than 
man had saved him; the Revolutionary War 
taught him lessons he was too honest to deny 
and, as a result, Washington's belief in God 
became the simple faith of a child, confirmed 
and strengthened by the actual, living ex- 
perience of a man. Beyond this point of a 
firm belief in God, of belief in his absolute 
justice and his "interposition" in the affairs 
of man there is little of a tangible nature; 
but is not this enough? We know that 
Washington's concepts of truth, honor, and 
justice were founded upon and woven into 
this belief in God, and we can find slight 
fault with George Washington's truth, 
honor, and justice. Can we, as individuals, 
demand that the religion of our neighbor do 
more than make that neighbor an honorable 
man and an upright citizen? Is it worth 
while to insist on knowing more than this 
about George Washington's religion? It is 
plain that the two great commandments were 
well obeyed by him, and his reply to the ad- 
dress of the Hebrew Congregation of New- 
port, Rhode Island, in August, 1790, is one 

of the best: "It is now no more that tolera- 
tion is spoken of, as if it was by the indul- 
gence of one class of people that another en- 
joyed the exercise of their inherent natural 
rights. For happily the Government of the 
United States, which gives to bigotry no 
sanction, to persecution no assistance, re- 
quires only that those who live under its pro- 
tection should demean themselves as good 
citizens, in giving it, on all occasions, their 
effectual support. . . . May the Father of 
Mercies scatter light and not darkness on our 
paths, and make us all, in our several voca- 
tions useful here, and in his own due time 
and way everlastingly happy." 

And now as a last quotation read this 
from the Farewell Address: "Morality is a 
necessary spring of popular government . . . 
let us with caution indulge the supposition 
that morality can be maintained without re- 
ligion. Whatever may be conceded to the 
influence of refined education on minds of 
peculiar structure, reason and experience 
both forbid us to expect that national mor- 
ality can prevail in exclusion of religious 
principle." Is not this satisfying? "The 
influence of refined education upon minds 
of peculiar structure" might almost refer to 
our Haeckels and our Spencers. And Wash- 
ington knew that the Haeckels and the Spen- 
cers do not influence the mass of the people 
to any extent and he was sure, from his own 
experience with men, that refined education 
without religion could not produce the ster- 
ling virtue of rugged and uncompromising 

On his deathbed, after nearly twenty-four 
hours of struggle for breath, he placed the 
final seal of courageous manhood upon his 
life and went to his Maker with his brave 
faith unshaken: "I felt from the first," he 
whispered, "that the disorder would prove 
fatal . . . but I am not afraid to go." 
These last half-dozen words tell the worth 
of his religion to George Washington. 

Washiegtom's Owe Words on Religion 


"After a tiresome, and in my opinion, a 
very unimportant Session, I returned home 
about the middle of last Month. . . . The 
expediency of an American Episcopate was 
long & warmly debated, and at length re- 
jected. As a substitute, the House attempted 
to frame an Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, to be 
composed of a President and four other 
clergymen, who were to have full power 
and authority to hear and determine all mat- 
ters and causes relative to the clergy, and 
to be vested with the [power] of Suspension, 

deprivation, & visitation. From this Juris- 
diction an Appeal was to be had to a Court 
of Delegates, to consist of an equal number 
of Clergymen and Laymen; but this Bill, 
after much canvassing, was put to Sleep, 
from an opinion that the subject was of too 
much Importance to be hastily entered into 
at the end of a Session." 

SUNDAYS (1773) 
January — Sunday, }rd — "In the After- 
noon Mr. Ben Dulany came here; the other 
Gentleman continued all day here." 

Sunday, 10 th — "At home all day. Mr. 
Geo. Digges, Messrs. David and Chas. Stew- 
art, Mr. Danl. Carrol Junr., and Mr. Rich- 
mond, dind and lodged here." 

Sunday, 17 th — "At home all day alone. 
Mrs. Barnes went up to Alexandria." 
Sunday 24th — "At home all day alone." 
Sunday list — "At home all day alone." 
February — Sunday, 7th — "At home all day 

Sunday, 14th — "At home all day — alone." 

Sunday, 21st — "At home all day. Mr. 

Hoops and a Mr. Warton calld here, but 


Honor to George Washington 

would not stay [to] dinner, taking a Cut 
before it." 

Sunday, 28 th — "At home all day. About 
Noon, Mr. Francis Willis, Mr. Warnr. Wash- 
ington, and my Brothr. Saml came here." 

March — Sunday 7th — "Dined at the Gov- 
ernor's and Spent the Evening at Mrs. Camp- 

Sunday, 14th — "Set off about 10 Oclock. 
Dind at King William Court and lodgd at 
Todd's Bridge." 

Sunday, 21s/ — "At Home all day alone." 

Sunday, 28th — "Went with Mr. Dulany 
and Mr. Digges, &ca., to Dine with Mr. 
Benj. Dulany at Mrs. French's. Returnd 
again in the afternoon." 

April — Sunday, 4th — "Mrs. Fairfax and 
Polly Brazier Dined here, as did Majr. Wage- 
ner. The latter stayd all Night. Mr. Jno. 
Baylor came in the afternoon." 

Sunday, 11 th — "Went to Pohick Church 
with Mrs. Washington and Mr. Custis, and 
returnd to Dinner." 

Sunday, 18th — "Reachd home to Dinner 
after passing through Piscataway Town." 

Sunday, 25th — "At home all day with 
the above Company." 

May — Sunday, 2nd — "Went to Belvoir 
and dined. Returned in the Afternoon." 

Sunday, 9th — "At home all day, Messrs. 
Ramsay, Rumney and Herbert dind here; 
the last of whom went away, the others 
stayd all Night." 

Sunday, 16th — "Breakfasted at Chester 
and Dined at Govr. Penn's in Philadelphia." 

Sunday, 2lrd — "Set out for New York 
with Lord Sterling, Majr. Bayard and Mr. 
Custis, after Breakfasting with Govr. Penn. 
Dined with Govr. Franklin at Burlington and 
lodgd at Trenton." 

Sunday, 10th — "Dined with Genl. Gage 
and Spent the Evening in my own Room 

June — Sunday, 6th — "Breakfasted at 
Slade's, 10 Miles from Sutton's, and dind and 
lodgd at Baltimore Town." 

Sunday, 13 th — "Went up with Miss Reed, 
etca., to Alexa. Church. Returnd to Din- 
ner with Mr. Willis. Doctr. Rumney 
w[en]t away." 

Sunday, 20th — "Colo. Fairfax and Lady, 
as also Mr. Massey dined here, Patcy Custis 
being buried. The first went away, Mr. 
Massey stayd." 

Sunday, 27th — "The two Miss Calverts 
went up to Church. Mr. Calvert came over 
to Dinner and stayd all Night, as did Mr. 
Tilghman from Alexa." 

July — Sunday 4th — "At home all day. 
Mrs. Peake and her daughter dind here." 

Sunday, 11th — "Old Mr. Digges came 
over in the Forenoon; also Mr. Willis and 
Polly Brazier. Willis returnd in the after- 

Sunday, 18th — "Mr. Tilghman returned to 
Alexa. Miss Calvert and Mrs. Washington 
and self went to Pohick Church. In the 
Afternoon Mr. B. Fairfax came." 

Sunday, 25th — "Went up to Alexandria 
Church and returnd to Dinner." 

August — Sunday, 1st — "At Mr. Calvert's 
all day." 

Sunday, 8th — "Went up to Alexa. Church 
and returnd to Dinner. Captn. Posey and 
Son Price here, the last of whom went away 
after Dinner." 

Sunday, 15th — "At home all day — alone." 

Sunday, 22nd — "Went up to Church at 
Alexandria and returnd to Dinner. Found 
Doctr. Craik here, who stayd all Night." 

Sunday, 29th — "Govr. Eden and the other 
Gentn. went away after breakfast. I con- 
tinued at home all day." 

September — Sunday, 5th — "Went up with 
him and Miss Nelly Calvert to Alexa. 
Church. Returnd to Dinner." 

Sunday, 12th — "Govr. Eden, Captn. Ellis, 
Mr. Dulany, Mr. Lee and Mr. Fendal came to 
Dinner and stayd all Night, as did Mr. F. 
Willis, Junr." 

Sunday, 19th — "The two Mr. Alexanders 
went away after breakfast. My Brother 
Sam, his Wife and two children, came to 

Sunday, 26th — "I set of for Annapolis 
Races. Dined at Rollin's and got into An- 
napolis between five and six Oclock. Spent 
the Evening and lodged at the Governor's." 

October — Sunday, ltd — "At home all day, 

Sunday, 10th — "Mr. Herbert went away 
before Breakfast. Mr. Tilghman went with 
Mrs. Washington and I to Pohick Church 
and returnd with us." 

Sunday, 17th — "At home all day — Captn. 
Conway Breakfasting here from the Ma- 
derias. Mr. Willis and my Brother went up 
to Church." 

Sunday, 24th — "At Colo. Bassett's all 

Sunday, list — "At Colo. Bassett's all 

November — Sunday, 7th — "Dined at Mrs. 
Dangerfield's and returnd to Colo. Bassett's 
in the afternoon." 

Sunday, 14th — "Returnd to Colo. Bas- 
sett's to Dinner." 

Sunday, 21st — "Dined at the Speaker's and 
spent the Evening in my own Room." 

Sunday, 28th — "At Colo. Bassett's all 

December — Sunday, 5 th — "At Colo. Bas- 
sett's all day." 

Sunday, 12th — "At home all day the above 
Company here. Mrs. Washington and Miss 
Brown going to Chh. and returng. to Din- 

Sunday, 19th — "At home all day alone. 
After Dinner Mrs. Barnes went to Mrs. 

Sunday, 26th — "At home all day. Mr. 
Ben Dulany, and Mr. Peale dined here." 


"Went to the Presbyterian Meeting [at 
Philadelphia] in the forenoon and Romish 
Church in the afternoon. Dind at Bevan's." 

MORALS (1776) 

"The unhappy Fate of Thomas Hickey, 
executed this day for Mutiny, Sedition and 
Treachery, the General hopes will be a warn- 
ing to every Soldier, in the Army, to avoid 
those crimes, and all others, so disgraceful 
to the character of a Soldier, and pernicious 
to his country, whose pay he receives and 
Bread he eats. — And in order to avoid those 
Crimes the most certain method is to keep 
out of temptation of them, and particularly 
to avoid lewd Women, who, by the dying 
Confession of this poor Criminal, first led 
him into practices which ended in an 
untimely and ignominous Death." 

"The General is sorry to be informed that 
the foolish and wicked practice of profane 
cursing and swearing (a Vice heretofore 
little known in an American Army,) is 
growing into fashion; he hopes the officers 
will by example as well as influence endeavor 
to check it, and that both they and the 
men will reflect, that we can have little 
hopes of the Blessing of Heaven on our 
Arms if we insult it by our impiety and 
folly; added to this it is a vice so mean 
and low, without any temptation, that every 
man of sense and character, detests and 
despises it." 


"The violent gale . . . and the with- 
drawing of the Count d'Estaing to Boston, 
... I consider storms and victory under 
the direction of a wise providence who no 
doubt directs them for the best of purposes, 
and to bring round the greatest degree of 
happiness to the greatest number of his 



"I consider it an indispensable duty to 
close this last solemn act of my official life, 
by commending the Interests of our dearest 
country to the protection of Almighty God, 
and those who have the superintendence of 
them to his holy keeping." 

STATES (1783) 

"The free cultivation of letters, the 
unbounded extension of commerce, the 
progressive refinement of manners, the grow- 
ing liberality of sentiment, and above all, 
the pure and benign light of Revelation, 
have had a meliorating influence on man- 
kind and increase the blessings of society. 

"I now make my earnest prayer, that God 
would have you and the States over which 
you preside, in his holy protection; that he 
would incline the hearts of the citizens to 
cultivate the spirit of subordination and 
obedience to government; to entertain a 
brotherly affection and love for one another, 
for their fellow citizens of the United States 
at large, and particularly for their brethren 
who have served in the field; and finally, 
that he would most graciously be pleased to 

Washington as a Religious Man 


dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, 
and to demean ourselves with that charity, 
humility, and pacific temper of mind which 
were the characteristics of the Divine Au- 
thor of our blessed religion, and without an 
humble imitation of whose example in these 
things we can never hope to be a happy 

SUNDAYS (1784, 1785) 

September, 1784 — Sunday, \9th — "Being 
Sunday, and the People living on my Land, 
apparently very religious, it was thought best 
to postpone going among them till tomor- 

October, 178 5 — Sunday, 2d — "Went with 
Fanny Bassett, Burwell Bassett, Doctr. Stu- 
art, G. A. Washington, Mr. Shaw and Nelly 
Custis to Pohick Church; to hear a Mr. 
Thompson preach, who returned home with 
us to Dinner, where I found the Revd. Mr. 
Jones, formerly a Chaplin in one of the 
Pennsylvania Regiments. 

"After we were in Bed (about eleven 
Oclock in the Evening) Mr. Houdon, sent 
from Paris by Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Jef- 
ferson to take my Bust, in behalf of the 
State of Virginia, with three young men 
assistants, introduced by a Mr. Perin a 
French Gentleman of Alexandria, arrived 
here by Water from the latter place." 


"Although no man's sentiments are more 
opposed to any kind of restraint upon re- 
ligious principles than mine are, yet I must 
confess, that I am not amongst the number 
of those, who are so much alarmed at the 
thoughts of making people pay towards the 
support of that which they profess, if of 
the denomination of Christians, or declare 
themselves Jews, Mahometans, or otherwise, 
and thereby obtain proper relief. As the 
matter now stands, I wish an assessment 
had never been agitated, and as it has gone 
so far, that the bill could not die an easy 
death; because I think it will be productive 
of more quiet to the State, than by enact- 
ing it into a law, which in my opinion 
would be impolitic, admitting there is a 
decided majority for it, to the disquiet of a 
respectable minority. In the former case, 
the matter will soon subside; in the latter, 
it will rankle and perhaps convulse the 


"Such being the impressions under which 
I have, in obedience to the public summons, 
repaired to the present station, it would be 
peculiarly improper to omit, in this first 
official act, my fervent supplications to 
that Almighty Being, who rules over the 
universe, who presides in the councils of 
nations, and whose providential aids can 
supply every human defect, that his bene- 
diction may consecrate to the liberties and 
happiness of the people of the United States 
a government instituted by themselves for 

these essential purposes, and may enable 
every instrument employed in its adminis- 
tration to execute with success the functions 
allotted to his charge. 

"In tendering this homage to the great 
Author of every public and private good, 
I assure myself that it expresses your senti- 
ments not less than my own; nor those of 
my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. 
No people can be bound to acknowledge and 
adore the invisible hand, which conducts 
the affairs of men, more than the people of 
the United States. Every step, by which 
they have advanced to the character of an 
independent nation, seems to have been dis- 
tinguished by some token of providential 

"And, in the important revolution just 
accomplished in the system of their united 
government, the tranquil deliberations and 
voluntary consent of so many distinct com- 
munities, from which the event has resulted, 
cannot be compared with the means by 
which most governments have been estab- 
lished, without some return of pious grati- 
tude along with an humble anticipation of 
the future blessings which the past seem to 
presage. These reflections, arising out of the 
present crisis, have forced themselves too 
strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You 
will join with me, I trust, in thinking that 
there are none, under the influence of which 
the proceedings of a new and free govern- 
ment can more auspiciously commence. 
• • • 

"Having thus imparted to you my senti- 
ments, as they have been awakened by the 
occasion that brings us together, I shall take 
my present leave; but not without resorting 
once more to the benign Parent of the human 
race, in humble supplication, that, since he 
has been pleased to favor the American 
people with opportunities for deliberating in 
perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for de- 
ciding with unparalleled unanimity on a 
form of government for the security of 
their union and the advancement of their 
happiness, so his divine blessing may be 
equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, 
the temperate consultations, and the wise 
measures, on which the success of this gov- 
ernment must depend." 


"Gentlemen, I thank you for your ad- 
dress, in which the most affectionate senti- 
ments are expressed in the most obliging 
terms. The coincidence of circumstances, 
which led to this auspicious crisis, the con- 
fidence reposed in me by my fellow-citizens, 
and the assistance I may expect from coun- 
sels, which will be dictated by an enlarged 
and liberal policy, seem to presage a more 
prosperous issue to my administration, than 
a diffidence of my abilities had taught me 
to anticipate. I now feel mvself inexpres- 
sibly happy in a belief, that Heaven, which 
has done so much for our infant nation, 
will not withdraw its providential influence 
before our political felicity shall have been 

completed; and in a conviction that the 
Senate will at all times co-operate in every 
measure which may tend to promote the 
welfare of this confederated republic. 

"Thus supported by a firm trust in the 
great Arbiter of the universe, aided by the 
collected wisdom of the Union, and implor- 
ing the divine benediction on our joint exer- 
tions in the service of our country, I readily 
engage with you in the arduous but pleasing 
task of attempting to make a nation happy." 


"It affords edifying prospects indeed to 
see Christians of every denomination dwell 
together in more charity, and conduct them- 
selves in respect to each other with a more 
Christian-like spirit than ever they have done 
in any former age or in any other nation." 


"On the seventh, now called the first day, 
for want of a place of Worship (within less 
than nine miles) such letters as do not 
require immediate acknowledgment I give 
answer to. . . . But it hath so happened, 
that on the two last Sundays — call them 
the first or the seventh as you please, I 
have been unable to perform the latter duty 
on account of visits from Strangers, with 
whom I could not use the freedom to leave 
alone, or recommend to the care of each 
other, for their amusement." 


"It is the duty of all nations to acknowl- 
edge the providence of Almighty God, to 
obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, 
and humbly to implore His protection and 
favor, . . . that great and glorious Being 
who is the beneficent Author of all the good 
that was, and is, and is to come." 


"I know the delicate nature of the duties 
incident to the part I am called to perform. 
I feel my incompetence without the singu- 
lar assistance of Providence to discharge 
them in a satisfactory manner." 


"When I contemplate the interposition of 
Providence as it was manifested in guiding 
us through the Revolution, in preparing us 
for the reception of a general government, 
and in conciliating the good-will of the 
people of America towards one another after 
its adoption, I feel myself oppressed and 
almost overwhelmed with a sense of the 
divine munificence." 


"It is not necessary for me to conceal 
the satisfaction I have felt upon finding 
that my compliance with the call of my 
country, and my dependence upon the as- 
sistance of Heaven to support me in my 


Honor to George Washington 

arduous undertakings, have, so far as I can 
learn, met the universal approbation of my 
countrymen. I reiterate the profession of 
my dependence upon Heaven as the source 
of all public and private blessings." 

CHURCH (1789) 
"It always affords me satisfaction when I 
find a concurring sentiment and practice 
between all conscientious men in acknowl- 
edgment of homage to the great Governor of 
the universe, and in professions of support 
to a just civil government. ... I shall al- 
ways strive to be a faithful and impartial 
patron of genuine vital religion. ... I take 
in the kindest part the promise you make of 
presenting your prayers at the throne of 
grace for me, and I likewise implore the 
divine benediction on yourselves and your 
religious community." 

"For the benedictions you have been 
pleased to implore of the Parent of the uni- 
verse on my person and family, I have a 
grateful heart, and the most ardent wish that 
we may all, by rectitude of conduct and a 
perfect reliance on His beneficence, draw 
the smiles of Heaven on ourselves and pos- 
terity to the latest generation." 


"If such talents as I possess have been 
called into action by great events, and those 
events have terminated happily for our 
country, the glory should be ascribed to the 
manifest interposition of an overruling 
Providence. . . . You, gentlemen, act the 
part of pious Christians and good citizens 
by your prayers and exertions, etc. I beseech 
the Almighty to take you and yours under 
His special care." 


"I was but the humble agent of favoring 
Heaven, whose benign interference was so 
often manifested in our behalf, and to whom 
the praise of victory alone is due." 

"May the members of your society in 
America, animated alone by the pure spirit 
of Christianity, and still conducting them- 
selves as the faithful subjects of our free 
government, enjoy every temporal and 
spiritual felicity." 

"In looking forward to that awful mo- 
ment when I must bid adieu to sublunary 
scenes, I anticipate the consolation of leav- 

ing our country in a prosperous condition; 
and while the curtain of separation shall be 
drawing, my last breath will, I trust, expire 
in a prayer for the temporal and eternal 
felicity of those who have not only en- 
deavored to gild the evening of my days with 
unclouded serenity, but extended their de- 
sires to my happiness hereafter in a brighter 


"May the same wonder-working Deity 
who long since delivered the Hebrews from 
their Egyptian oppressors, and planted them 
in the promised land, whose providential 
agency has lately been conspicuous in estab- 
lishing these United States as an independent 
nation, still continue to water them with 
the dews of heaven, and to make the inhabi- 
tants of every denomination participate in 
the temporal and spiritual blessings of that 
people whose God is Jehovah." 


"Of all the animosities which have existed 
among mankind, those which are caused by 
difference of sentiments in religion appear 
to be the most inveterate and distressing, and 
ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes, 
that the lightened and liberal policy, which 
has marked the present age, would at least 
have reconciled Christians of every denomi- 
nation so far, that we should never again 
see their religious disputes carried to such a 
pitch as to endanger the peace of society." 


"There never was a people, who had more 
reason to acknowledge a divine interposition 
in their affairs, than those of the United 
States; and I should be pained to believe 
that they have forgotten that agency, which 
was so often manifested during our revolu- 
tion, or that they failed to consider the 
omnipotence of that God who is alone able 
to protect them." 


"I humbly implore that Being on whose 
will the fate of nations depends to crown 
with success our mutual endeavors for the 
general happiness." 


"Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the 
Supreme Ruler of nations to spread His 
holy protection over these United States: 
... to perpetuate to our country that pros- 
perity which His goodness has already con- 
ferred, and to verify the anticipations of 

this government being a safeguard to human 


"I derive peculiar satisfaction from your 
concurrence with me in the expression of 
gratitude to Almighty God which a review 
of the auspicious circumstances that distin- 
guish our happy country have excited. . . . 
The sentiments we have mutually expressed 
of profound gratitude to the Source of those 
numerous blessings, the Author of all good, 
and pledges of our obligations to unite our 
sincere and zealous endeavors, as the instru- 
ments of divine Providence, to preserve and 
perpetuate them." 


"It is in an especial manner our duty as 
a people with devout reverence and affec- 
tionate gratitude to acknowledge our many 
and great obligations to Almighty God, and 
to implore Him to continue and confirm 
the blessings we experience, ... at the 
same time humbly and fervently to beseech 
the kind Author of those blessings graciously 
to prolong them to us, and to imprint upon 
our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our 
obligations to Him for them." 


"I find ample reason for a renewal of that 
gratitude to the Ruler of the universe which 
a continued series of prosperity has so often 
and so justly called forth. . . . 

"I cannot omit the occasion now to repeat 
my fervent supplication to the Supreme 
Ruler of the universe and Sovereign Arbiter 
of nations, that His providential care may 
still be extended to the United States." 

PHIA (1797) 

"Believing as I do that religion and 
morality are the essential pillars of civil 
society, I view with unspeakable pleasure 
that harmony and brotherly love which 
characterize the clergy of different denomi- 
nations, as well in this as in other parts of 
the United States, exhibiting to the world 
a new and interesting spectacle, at once the 
pride of our country and the surest basis of 
universal harmony. 

"That your labors for the good of man- 
kind may be crowned with success, that your 
temporal enjoyments may be commensurate 
with your merits, and that the future re- 
ward of good and faithful servants may be 
yours, I shall not cease to supplicate the 
divine Author of life and felicity." 

Washington as a Religious Man 


Selected Authorities 

Andrews, Charles M. — Colonial Folkways 

(Chronicles of America, Vol. IX). New 

Haven, Yale University Press, 1919. 

(Especially ch. vii.) 
Greene, Evarts Boutell — Provincial 

America (American Nation, Vol. VI). 

New York, Harper, 1905. (Especially 

ch. xviii.) 
Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. — American 

History told by Contemporaries, Vol. II. 

New York, Macmillan, 1898. (Especially 

ch. xv.) 
Humphreys, Edward Frank — Nationalism 

and Religion in America, 1774-1789. 

Boston, Chipman Law Publishing Co., 
Jernegan, Marcus Wilson — American 
Colonies, 1492-1750 (Epochs of Ameri- 
can History, Vol. I). New York, Long- 
mans Green, 1929. (Especially ch. xv.) 

Johnstone, William J. — George Wash- 
ington the Christian. New York, Abing- 
don Press, 1919. 

M'Guire, Edward C. — Religious Opinions 
and Character of Washington. 2d ed. 
New York, Harper, 1847. 

Meade, William — Old Churches, Ministers 
and Families of Virginia. 2 vols. Phila- 
delphia. Lippincott, 18 57. 

Slaughter, Philip — Christianity the Key 
to the Character and Career of Washing- 
ton. New York, Whittaker, 1886. 

Washington, George — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick. 4 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 

Washington's Addresses to the Churches 
(Old South Leaflets, No. 65). Boston, 


The Day's Beginning 

From a painting by J. L. G. Ferris 

Pamphlet Number Six 

Washington the Colonial and National 


By David ML Matteson 


Washington in Colonial Politics (1755*1775) 

George Washington 

This portrait, known as the "Gibbs-Channing portrait," was painted in 1791 
by Gilbert Stuart 


ASHINGTON'S experience as a 
politician began in 175 5. That 
year he became a candidate for 
election as Burgess for Frederick 
County, at that time covering the northern 
half of Virginia, west of the Blue Ridge, 
with Winchester as the county seat. He 

was defeated, partly, it is said, because he 
would not resort to the usual method of 
canvassing and his opposition to tippling 
houses in the garrison town. There is evi- 
dence, however, that at the same time he 
stood or had ideas of standing for Fairfax 
County within which were both Alexandria 
and Mount Vernon. He wrote his brother: 
"I should be glad if you could discover 

[their] . . . real sentiments on this head; 
. . . without disclosing much of mine, . . . 
If they seem inclinable to promote my in- 
terest, and things should be drawing to a 
crisis, you then may declare my intention, 
and beg their assistance. If, on the contrary, 
you find them more inclined to favour some 
other, I would have the affair entirely 
dropped. . . . sound their pulse . . . with 
an air of indifference and unconcern; after 
that, you may regulate your conduct accord- 
ing to circumstances." Evidently, though, 
the sounding, if attempted, was not favor- 
able. In July, 1758, while himself absent 
with the Forbes expedition he was again a 
candidate for Frederick and this time suc- 
cessful, his agent being chaired through the 
street with much enthusiasm, the reason for 
which is made somewhat evident by Wash- 
ington's bill for election expenses. This in 
a gross of £39. 6s included 118 gallons of 
liquor in various forms, besides one hogshead, 
one barrel, and ten bowls of punch, and £3 
for a "dinner for your Friends." He wrote 
his thanks to the agent, including a promise 
to the constituents such as nowadays would 
be made before the election: "If thanks 
flowing from a heart replete with joy and 
Gratitude can in any Measure compensate 
for the fatigue, anxiety and Pain you had 
at my Election, be assured you have them; 
'tis a poor, but I am convinced, welcome 
tribute to a generous Mind. Such, I believe 
yours to be. How shall I . . . acknowledge 
my sense of obligations to the People in 
general for their choice of me, I am at a 
loss to resolve on. But why? Can I do it 
more effectually than by makin? their Inter- 
est (as it really is) my own, and doing every- 
thing that lyes in my little Power for the 
Honor and welfare of the Country? I think 
not; and my best endeavors they may always 
command. I promise this now, when prom- 
ises may be regarded, before they might pass 
as words of course." 


His attendance began on February 22, 
1759, and he continued to be a member of 
the House until 1775 through several re- 
elections, first for Frederick County and then 


Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 


for Fairfax. Our interest in this service is 
its relation to his later political policies, 
especially as in it originated the principles 
for which he fought during the Revolution. 
The Stamp Act agitation was the first 
influence. September 20, 1765, Washington 
wrote: "The Stamp Act, imposed on the 
colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain, 
engrosses the conversations of the speculative 
part of the colonists, who look upon this 
unconstitutional method of taxation, as a 
direful attack upon their liberties and loudly 
exclaim against the violation. What may 
be the result of this, and of some other (I 
think I may add) ill-judged measures, 1 will 
not undertake to determine; but this I may 
venture to affirm, that the advantage accru- 
ing to the mother country will fall greatly 
short of the expectations of the ministry; 
for certain it is, that our whole substance 
does already in a manner flow to Great 
Britain, and that whatsoever contributes to 
lessen our importations must be hurtful to 
their manufacturers. And the eyes of our 
people, already beginning to open, will per- 
ceive, that many luxuries, which we lavish 
our substance in Great Britain for, can well 
be dispensed with, whilst the necessaries of 
life are (mostly) to be had within ourselves. 
This, consequently, will introduce frugality, 
and be a necessary stimulation to industry. 
If Great Britain, therefore, loads her manu- 
factures with heavy taxes, will it not facili- 
tate these measures? They will not compel 
us, I think, to give our money for their 
exports, whether we will or not; and cer- 
tain, I am, none of their traders will part 
from them without a valuable consideration. 
Where, then, is the utility of these restric- 
tions? As to the Stamp Act, taken in a 
single view, one and the first bad conse- 
quence attending it, I take to be this, our 
courts of judicature must inevitably be shut 
up; for it is impossible (or next of kin to 
it), under our present circumstances, that 
the act of Parliament can be complied with, 
were we ever so willing to enforce the exe- 
cution; for, not to say, which alone would 
be sufficient, that we have not money to 
pay the stamps, there are many cogent rea- 
sons to prevent it; and if a stop be put to 
our judicial proceedings, I fancv the mer- 
chants of Great Britain, trading to the 
colonies, will not be among the last to wish 
for a repeal of it." July 2 5, 1767, he added: 
"Those . . . who . . . were instrumental 
in securing the repeal . . . are . . . de- 
servedly entitled to the thanks of the well- 
wishers to Britain and her colonies, . . . 
Mine they accordingly have, and always shall 
have for their opposition to any act of 
oppression; and that act could be looked 
upon in no other light by every person, who 
would view it in its proper colors." 

TION (1769-1770) 

Four years later after the Townshend 
Acts had become law he had a correspond- 
ence with his neighbor George Mason in 

April, 1769, the outgrowth of which was 
the Virginia Non-importation Association of 
May 18, adopted at a meeting of Burgesses 
just after they had been dissolved by the 
governor for voting the Virginia Resolves. 
The Association was drafted by Mason; 
Washington was a member of the commit- 
tee. Washington in his letter of April 5, 
wrote: "At a time, when our lordly masters 
in Great Britain will be satisfied with noth- 
ing less than the deprivation of American 
freedom, it seems highly necessary that 
something should be done to avert the 
stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we 
have derived from our ancestors. But the 
manner of doing it, to answer the purpose 
effectually, is the point in question. That 
no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, 
to use a-ms in defence of so valuable a 
blessing, on which all the good and evil of 
life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet 
a-ms, I would beg leave to add, should be 
the last resource, the dernier resort. Ad- 
dresses to the throne, and remonstrances to 
Parliament, we have already, it is said, proved 
the inefficacy of. How far, then, their at- 
tention to our rights and privileges is to be 
awakened or alarmed, by starving their 
trade and manufactures, remains to be tried. 

"The more I consider a scheme of this 
sort, the more ardently I wish success to it, 
because I think there are private as well as 
public advantages to result from it, — the 
former certain, however precarious the other 
may prove. For in respect to the latter, I 
have always thought, that by virtue of the 
same power, (for here alone the authority 
derives) which assumes the right of taxation, 
they may attempt at least to restrain our 
manufactories, especially those of a public 
nature, the same equity and justice pre- 
vailing in the one case as the other, it being 
no greater hardship to forbid my manufac- 
turing, than it is to order me to buy goods 
of them loaded with duties, for the express 
purpose of raising a revenue. But as a 
measure of this sort would be an exertion of 
arbitrary power, we cannot be worsted, I 
think, but by putting it to the test." 

His deeds lived up to his words and in 
his orders to his English agents he was care- 
ful to specify in August, 1770, that: "You 
will perceive, in looking over the several 
invoices, that some of the goods there re- 
quired, are upon condition, that the act of 
Parliament imposing a duty on tea, paper, 
&c. for the purpose of raising a revenue in 
America, is totally repealed; and I beg the 
favor of you to be governed strictly thereby, 
as it will not be in my power to receive any 
articles contrary to our non-importation 
agreement, which I have subscribed, and 
shall religiously adhere to, and should, if it 
were, as I could wish it to be, ten times 
as strict." 

PORT BILL (1774) 

Excellent authorities assure us that but 
for the insistent agitation by certain of the 
American radicals and the wrong-headedness 
of certain English leaders, particularly the 
King, affairs might have resumed the nor- 
mal condition, Parliament being satisfied 
with placing on record its right to control 
the colonies while the latter continued vir- 
tually to govern themselves. However, the 
attempt to force taxed tea through the 
colonial ports, the general resistance of this, 
and the subsequent coercive acts against 
Massachusetts, because she had been most 
active in the decade of resistance, precipi- 
tated the conflict. When the news reached 
Williamsburg of the enactment of the Bos- 
ton Port Bill the Burgesses voted on May 
24, 1774, that June 1, when the act became 
operative, should be a day of fasting and 
prayer in Virginia. Lord Dunmore, the 
governor, dissolved the House in order to 
prevent more drastic resolves, which Rich- 
ard Henry Lee intended to introduce. Once 
more the Burgesses resorted to a private 
meeting, May 25, drew up another Associa- 
tion and recommended an intercolonial con- 
gress. Several days later twenty-five of 
them met again, and not considering that so 
few of them should take the further action 
deemed essential, proposed that the Burgesses 
meet in convention on August 1. Wash- 
ington was one of these twenty-five. He 
was becoming weary of half measures, of 
ignored addresses, petitions, and humble ap- 
proaches to the Throne. 

The letter he wrote his loyalist friend, 
Bryan Fairfax, July 4, 1774, shows this: 
"As to your political sentiments, I would 
heartily join you in them, so far as relates 
to a humble and dutiful petition to the 
throne, provided there was the most distant 
hope of success. But have we not tried this 
already? Have we not addressed the Lords, 
and remonstrated to the Commons? And 
to what end? Did they deign to look at 
our petitions? Does it not appear, as clear 
as the sun in its meridian brightness, that 
there is a regular, systematic plan formed to 
fix the right and practice of taxation upon 
us? Does not the uniform conduct of 
Parliament for some years past confirm this? 
Do not all the debates, especially those just 
brought to us, in the House of Commons 
on the side of government, expressly declare 
that America must be taxed in aid of the 
British funds, and that she has no longer 
resources within herself? Is there any thing 
to be expected from petitioning after this? 
Is not the attack upon the liberty and prop- 
erty of the people of Boston, before restitu- 
tion of the loss to the India Company was 
demanded, a plain and self-evident proof of 
what they are aiming at? Do not the sub- 
sequent bills (now I dare say acts), for 
depriving the Massachusetts Bay of its char- 
ter, and transporting offenders into other 
colonies or to Great Britain for trial, where 


Honor to George Washington 

it is impossible from the nature of the thing 
that justice can be obtained, convince us 
that the administration is determined to 
stick at nothing to carry its point? Ought 
we not, then, to put our virtue and fortitude 
to the severest test?" 

Before the meeting of the Convention 
there were various conferences with his 
neighbor, George Mason, which resulted in 
meetings of the citizens of the county on 
July 5 and 18, when Washington presided 
and Mason's famous Fairfax County Re- 
solves, which undoubtedly had been 
moulded into shape at the discussions be- 
tween the two leaders, were adopted, but 
considered as Mason's work. 


The first Virginia Convention met at 
Williamsburg, August 1-6. Washington at- 
tended not only as a Burgess but as a dele- 
gate appointed at the Fairfax County meet- 
ing to present that meeting's resolves. The 
journals of the Convention show no special 
activity by him; but John Adams, in his 
diary, at second or third hand, accredits him 
with making the most eloquent speech in the 
gathering: "I will raise one thousand men, 
subsist them at my own expense, and march 
myself at their head for the relief of Bos- 
ton." Silas Deane makes a somewhat simi- 
lar statement, so it was evidently one of the 
current stories among the delegates of the 
Continental Congress that autumn. On the 
fifth Washington was elected a delegate to 
the Continental Congress, and this was the 
beginning of his intercolonial and later 
political career. Continuing his correspond- 
ence with Fairfax, he exposed the attitude 
with which he approached the larger meet- 
ing, writing August 24: "I have no new 
lights to throw upon the subject, or any 
other arguments to offer in support of my 
own doctrine, than what you have seen; and 
could only in general add, that an innate 
spirit of freedom first told me, that the 
measures, which administration hath for 
some time been and now are most violently 
pursuing, are repugnant to every principle 
of natural justice; whilst much abler heads 
than my own hath fully convinced me, that 
it is not only repugnant to natural rights, 
but subversive of the laws and constitution 
of Great Britain itself, in the establishment 
of which some of the best blood in the king- 
dom hath been spilt. . . . For my own part, 
I shall not undertake to say where the line 
between Great Britain and the colonies 
should be drawn; but I am clearly of 
opinion, that one ought to be drawn, and 
our rights clearly ascertained. I could wish, 
I own, that the dispute had been left to 
posterity to determine, but the crisis is 
arrived when we must assert our rights, or 
submit to every imposition that can be 
heaped upon us, till custom and use shall 
make us as tame and abject slaves, as the 
blacks we rule over with such arbitrary 

sway. ... if you disavow the right of 
Parliament to tax us, (unrepresented as we 
are) we only differ in respect to the mode 
of opposition, and this difference principally 
arises from your belief, that they — the Par- 
liament, I mean, — want a decent opportunity 
to repeal the acts; whilst I am as fully con- 
vinced, as I am of my own existence, there 
has been a regular, systematic plan formed 
to enforce them, and that nothing but 
unanimity in the colonies (a stroke they 
did not expect) and firmness, can prevent 
it. . . . P. S. Pray what do you think of 
the Canada Bill?" 

He was giving much thought, evidently, 
to the approaching session, for he asked for 
authentic lists of exports and imports an- 
nually, more especially to and from Great 
Britain, and there were further conferences. 
The night before he started for Philadelphia, 
Henry and Pendleton, fellow delegates, as 
well as Mason, were with him over night. 


The meetings of what is usually called 
the "First" Continental Congress began on 
September 5 and ended on October 26. 
Washington was not a member of any com- 
mittee. His position in the gathering is 
best known through Henry's tribute: "If 
you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge of 
South Carolina is by far the greatest orator, 
but if you speak of solid information and 
sound judgment, Colonel Washington is 
unquestionably the greatest man on that 
floor." Silas Deane wrote that he "speaks 
very modestly and in cool but determined 
style and accent." 

The published letters of members of Con- 
gress make but slight reference to him. He 
was, however, profiting by the intercourse 
with leaders from other colonies, weighing 
their desires with those of his own region, 
and solidifying his principles. When a 
former companion of the French War, now 
an officer of the British troops in Boston, 
made accusations against the Massachusetts 
leaders, Washington "Spent the afternn. 
with the Boston Gentn.," and then made a 
warm reply to Mackenzie on October 9: 
"I conceive, when you condemn the con- 
duct of the Massachusetts people, you reason 
from effects, not causes; otherwise you would 
not wonder at a people, who are every day 
receiving fresh proofs of a systematic as- 
sertion of an arbitrary power, deeply planned 
to overturn the laws and constitution of 
their country, and to violate the most essen- 
tial and valuable rights of mankind, being 
irritated, and with difficulty restrained from 
acts of the greatest violence and intemper- 
ance. For my own part, I confess to you 
candidly, that I view things in a very dif- 
ferent point of light from the one in which 
you seem to consider them; and though you 
are led to believe by venal men, — for such 
I must take the liberty of calling those new- 
fangled counsellors, who fly to and surround 
you, and all others, who, for honors or 

pecuniary gratifications, will lend their aid 
to overturn the constitution, and introduce 
a system of arbitrary government, — although 
you are taught, I say, by discoursing with 
such men, to believe, that the people of 
Massachusetts are rebellious, setting up for 
independency, and what not, give me leave, 
my good friend, to tell you, that you are 
abused, grossly abused. This I advance with 
a degree of confidence and boldness, which 
may claim your belief, having better oppor- 
tunities of knowing the real sentiments of 
the people you are among, from the leaders 
of them, in opposition to the present meas- 
ures of the administration, than you have 
from those whose business it is, not to dis- 
close truths, but to misrepresent facts in 
order to justify as much as possible to the 
world their own conduct. Give me leave to 
add, and I think I can announce it as a 
fact, that it is not the wish or interest of 
that government, or any other upon this 
continent, separatively or collectively, to set 
up for independence; but this you may at 
the same time rely on, that none of them 
will ever submit to the loss of those valuable 
rights and privileges, which are essential 
to the happiness of every free state, and 
without which, life, liberty, and property 
are rendered totally insecure. These, Sir, 
being certain consequences, which must 
naturally result from the late acts of Par- 
liament relative to America in general, and 
the government of Massachusetts Bay in 
particular, is it to be wondered at, I repeat, 
that men, who wish to avert the impending 
blow, should attempt to oppose it in its 
progress, or prepare for their defence, if it 
cannot be averted? Surely I may be al- 
lowed to answer in the negative; and again 
give me leave to add as my opinion, that 
more blood will be spilled on this occasion, 
if the ministry are determined to push mat- 
ters to extremity, than history has ever yet 
furnished instances of in the annals of North 
America, and such a vital wound will be 
given to the peace of this great country, as 
time itself cannot cure, or eradicate the re- 
membrance of." 


Washington's final public actions as a 
Virginia colonial gentleman were reviews of 
various independent companies. He wrote 
his brother, March 2 5, 1775, promising to 
review the latter's company in Shenandoah 
Valley: "I . . . shall very cheerfully accept 
the honor of commanding it, if occasion 
requires it to be drawn out, as it is my 
full intention to devote my life and fortune 
in the cause we are engaged in, if needful." 
He attended the second Virginia Provincial 
Convention at Richmond on March 20-27, 
and was reelected to the Continental Con- 
gress. Again at Mount Vernon, the con- 
ferences went on. Mason, the Lees, and 
others with whom he undoubtedly discussed 
the situation were his guests, and it is sig- 
nificant that he also entertained Charles Lee 

Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 


and Horatio Gates, both of whom were soon 
to be generals in the Continental Army. He 
left his home, which he was not to see again 
for more than six strenuous years, on May 
4, 1775. The second session of Congress be- 
gan at Philadelphia on May 10, and he was 
appointed to the committees on fortifying 
New York, ammunition, army rules, and 
raising money. Before this, however, the 
news of the battle of Lexington and Con- 
cord was received; and on May 3 he had 
written his friend George William Fairfax, 
then in England: "Unhappy it is, though, 
to reflect, that a brother's sword has been 
sheathed in a brother's breast, and that the 
once happy and peaceful plains of America 

are either to be drenched with blood or 
inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But 
can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?" 
There could be no more hesitation, the 
issues were finally joined; and with his mind 
made up he saw that it was his duty to 
accept the command of the army when on 
June 1 5 Congress offered it to him. This 
did not withdraw him from politics; rather 
it made it sharply needful to bear in mind 
both political and military necessity and to 
strive to reconcile the two opposing ele- 
ments. It became his task to make an often 
reluctant Congress, jealous of its own en- 
tirely self -ordained rights, realize facts; a 
task of wise and patient statecraft. This 

phase of his career during the Revolution is 
often lost sight of; but its importance was 
scarcely less than success on the field; in- 
deed, the latter was dependent upon the 

This relationship with Congress began 
with his commission and instructions. Al- 
though he was "vested with full power and 
authority to act as you shall think for the 
good and welfare of the service," he was 
also "punctually to observe and follow such 
orders and directions, from time to time, as 
you shall receive from this, or a future Con- 
gress." Congress intended to hold the 

Part II 

Washington's Relation to Congress 



Washington's military relations with Con- 
gress have been summed up by Van Tyne as 
"handicapped by the most unwieldly superior 
council that ever hampered a military 
chieftain." Yet Washington considered 
from the first that the power of Congress 
was paramount within the colonies, at least 
in military affairs. He wrote Governor 
Trumbull, July 18, 1775: "As the army is 
upon a general establishment, their right, 
to supersede and control a Provincial one, 
must be unquestionable." At the same time 
he began the incessant effort to induce Con- 
gress to put the army upon a unified and 
secure basis; the first problem being the 
right of the colonies to appoint all the offi- 
cers under generals for the troops raised in 
each. "I submit," he wrote Rodney, Au- 
gust 30, "that as the whole troops are now 
taken into the pay of the United Colonies, 
the Congress . . . ought to reserve the fill- 
ing up of all vacancies themselves, in order 
that volunteers from every government may 
have an equal chance of preferment, instead 
of confining all officers to a few governments 
to the total exclusion of the rest." At that 
time almost all the troops before Boston were 
from New England. This desire for a 
strong, active, central government runs 
through all his wartime correspondence; he 
did not need the evidence of the weakness 
of the later Confederation to form his mind; 
that merely strengthened his position. 


The realization that Congress was not the 
instrument for such a government must have 
come to him early. September 21, 1775, it 

gave him "great pain to be obliged to solicit 
the attention of the honorable Congress to 
the state of this army, in terms which imply 
the slightest apprenhension of being ne- 
glected. But my situation is inexpressibly 
distressing." Nonetheless he welcomed the 
first committee from Congress, consisting of 
Franklin, Lynch of South Carolina, and his 
friend Harrison from Virginia, who were at 
camp in October, sent there as President 
Hancock wrote Washington, that "Congress, 
before they come to a final Determination," 
might have the "Advantage of your experi- 
ence and Knowledge." Congress might 
show much lack of strength, but it was the 
chosen instrument, and since he could not 
alter it, Washington at all times was ready 
to consult with it and its committees and 
to do the best he could with its decisions — 
or lack of them. However severe the trials, 
the rule that he made for his subordinates 
applied equally to himself. "The retirement 
of a General Officer . . . appears to me to 
be big with fatal consequences both to the 
public cause and his own reputation, . . . 
in such a cause as this, when the object is 
neither glory nor extent of territory, but a 
defence of all that is dear and valuable in 
private and public life, surely every post 
ought to be deemed honorable in which a 
man can serve his country." 

There were too many divergencies, social 
and economic, among the colonial regions, as 
well as among the individual colonies, for 
Congress ever to become a harmonious body. 
Lynch wrote Washington in December: 
"One of our members of Congress [John 
Adams] set out today for New England. 
Whether his intents are wicked or not, I 
doubt much; he should be watched." 
Adams himself wrote: "It is almost impos- 

sible to move anything, but you instantly 
see private friendships and enmities, and 
provincial views and prejudices intermingle 
in the consultation." This was early in the 
contest, while enthusiasm was yet high and 
there had been no military reverses, and 
while the men in Congress were more dis- 
tinctly the leaders than later. Washington 
was aware of the difficulty, and this inter- 
colonial and interstate jealousy in and out of 
Congress was one of his problems, one that 
helped materially to broaden his own look- 
out and to prepare him for his later high 
civil authority. He wrote that his chief 
wish was "to make my conduct coincide 
with the wishes of mankind, as far as I can 
consistently; I mean, without departing 
from that great line of duty, which, though 
hid under a cloud for some time, from a 
peculiarity of circumstances, may neverthe- 
less bear a scrutiny." This was a large order, 
especially when there was a lack of accord 
in the wishes of mankind of his world; and 
not being phlegmatic, he was severely tried 
at times. 


One of the main problems of the army 
and one upon which he never succeeded in 
getting Congress to agree with him was that 
of the term of enlistments. The matter, so 
far as it affected military operations belongs 
to another article, but as it was a cardinal 
element in his relations with Congress, an 
early statement of his position in the mat- 
ter, while the army was yet before Boston, 
and after the troubles accompanying the 
first reenlistment, is of value here. "The 
evils arising from short, or even any limited 
inlistment of the troops, are greater, and 
more extensively hurtful than any person 


Honor to George Washington 

(not an eye-witness to them) can form an 
idea of. It takes you two or three months 
to bring new men in any tolerable degree 
acquainted with their duty; it takes a longer 
time to bring a people of the temper and 
genius of these into such a subordinate way 
of thinking as is necessary for a soldier. 
Before this is accomplished, the time ap- 
proaches for their dismissal, and you are 
beginning to make interest with them for 
their continuance for another limited period; 
in the doing of which you are obliged to 
relax in your discipline, in order as it were 
to curry favor with them, by which means 
the latter part of your time is employed in 
undoing what the first was accomplishing, 
and instead of having men always ready to 
take advantage of circumstances, you must 
govern your movements by the circum- 
stances of your Inlistments. This is not all; 
by the time you have got men arm'd and 
equip'd, the difficulty of doing which is 
beyond description, and with every new sett 
you have the same trouble to encounter, 
without the means of doing it. — In short, 
the disadvantages are so great and apparent 
to me, that I am convinced, uncertain as the 
continuance of the war is, that Congress had 
better determine to give a bounty of 20, 30, 
or even 40 Dollars to every man who will 
Inlist for the whole time, be it long or 

The successful termination of the siege of 
Boston transferred the theater of war to 
New York. Meanwhile the question of in- 
dependence was in agitation. As early as 
February 10, 1776, Washington showed his 
own change of view, writing Reed: "I have 
never entertained an idea of an accommoda- 
tion, since I heard of the measures, which 
were adopted in consequence of the Bunker's 
Hill fight. ... I would tell them . . . that 
we had done every thing which could be 
expected from the best of subjects, that the 
spirit of freedom beat too high in us to 
submit to slavery, and that, if nothing else 
could satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical 
ministry, we are determined to shake off all 
connexions with a state so unjust and 
unnatural. This I would tell them, not 
under covert, but in words as clear as the 
sun in its meridian brightness." 

He advanced the "liberty and union" 
thought in a letter to Adams, April 15: "I 
have ever thought, and am still of opinion, 
that no terms of accommodation will be 
offered by the British ministry, but such as 
cannot be accepted by America. We have 
nothing, my dear Sir, to depend upon but 
the protection of a kind Providence, and 
unanimity among ourselves." Again, he 
wrote Reed, April 23: "Your letter . . . 
descriptive of the jealousies and uneasinesses 
which exist among the Members of Con- 
gress is really alarming — if the House is 
divided, the fabrick must fall, and a few 
Individuals perish in the Ruins." At the 
end of May he was "very glad to find that 

the Virginia Convention have passed so noble 
a vote [for independence], and with so much 
unanimity;" but his comment to the Presi- 
dent of Congress on the Declaration itself 
is rather trite: "I perceive that Congress 
have been employed in deliberating on 
measures of the most interesting nature. It 
is certain, that it is not with us to determine 
in many instances what consequences will 
flow from our counsels; but yet it behoves 
us to adopt such, as, under the smiles of a 
gracious and all-kind Providence, will be 
most likely to promote our happiness. I 
trust the late decisive part they have taken 
is calculated for that end, and will secure 
us that freedom and those privileges, which 
have been and are refused us, contrary to the 
voice of nature and the British constitu- 
tion." There is, however, more spirit and 
hope in the general order of July 9, an- 
nouncing the Declaration to the army: "The 
General hopes this important Event will 
serve as a fresh incentive to every officer 
and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Cour- 
age, as knowing that now the peace and 
safety of his Country, depends (under 
God) solely on the success of our Arms: 
And that he is now in the service of a 
State, possessed of sufficient power to re- 
ward his merit, and advance him to the 
highest Honors of a free Country." Here, 
as in many other cases, Washington's public 
utterances were more optimistic than his 
private reasoning; he did not lack the politi- 
cal sense. 


The latter half of 1776, the period of 
the New York and New Jersey campaigns, 
was one that "tried men's souls." For Con- 
gress and the General it began when Presi- 
dent Hancock wrote Washington, May 16, 
the request "that you will repair to Philada. 
as soon as you can conveniently, in order to 
consult with Congress, upon such Measures 
as may be necessary for the carrying on the 
ensuing Campaign;" which, being done, 
Hancock, June 3, bestowed "the Thanks of 
that Body to you, for the unremitted At- 
tention you have paid to your important 
Trust; and in particular for the Assistance 
they have derived from your military 
Knowledge and Experience, in adopting the 
best Plans for the Defence of the United 
Colonies." It ended with Congress in flight 
from Philadelphia and Washington in pos- 
session of temporary dictatorial military 
power, "vested with full, ample and com- 
plete powers . . . for and during the term 
of six months . . . unless sooner determined 
by Congress." 

With the retirement of the American 
army to Harlem Heights and the general 
demoralization that ensued, both Congress 
and the General went on record to shift re- 
sponsibility. John Adams, noticing the 
general condition, procured from Congress 
on September 19 a resolution: "That the 
commander in chief of the forces of these 

states in the several departments, be directed 
to give positive orders to the brigadier gen- 
erals and colonels, and all other officers in 
their several armies, that the troops, under 
their command, may, every day, be called 
together, and trained in arms, in order that 
officers and men may be perfected in the 
manual exercise and manceuvers, and inured 
to the most exemplary discipline, and that 
all officers be assured, that the Congress will 
consider activity and success, in introducing 
discipline into the army, among the best 
recommendations for promotion." It was 
this same Adams who in debate the next 
winter is credited by a fellow delegate with 
saying: "I have been distressed to see some 
members of this house disposed to idolise an 
image which thier own hands have molten. 
I speak here of the superstitious veneration 
that is sometimes paid to General Washing- 
ton. Altho' I honour him for his good 
qualities, yet in this house I feel myself his 
Superior." One of the delegates at this time 
wrote, "to the Grief of Congress the Genl 
has wrote several (they think) too gloomy 
Letters, some speak with great Resolution." 


Washington probably had received the 
above resolution before he wrote one of 
these "gloomy" letters on September 24: 
"We are now, as it were, upon the eve of 
another dissolution of our army. The re- 
membrance of the difficulties, which hap- 
pened upon that occasion last year, and the 
consequences, which might have followed 
the change if proper advantages had been 
taken by the enemy, added to a knowledge 
of the present temper and situation of the 
troops, reflect but a very gloomy prospect 
in the appearances of things now, and satisfy 
me beyond the possibility of a doubt, that, 
unless some speedy and effectual measures 
are adopted by Congress, our cause will be 
lost. It is in vain to expect, that any more 
than a trifling part of this army will again 
engage in the service on the encouragement 
offered by Congress." 

He was far milder than some of his gen- 
erals considered that the occasion justified. 
Greene wrote: "The policy of Congress has 
been the most absurd and ridiculous imagin- 
able, pouring in militia — men who come and 
go every month. A military force estab- 
lished on such principles defeats itself." 
While Lee, who had no love for or exalted 
opinion of Washington, wrote: "Inter nos 
Congress seems to stumble at every step. I 
have been very free in delivering my opinion 
of them. General Washington is much to 
blame in not menacing them with resigna- 
tion, unless they refrain from unhinging the 
army by their absurd interference." 

The letter however had its effect. Con- 
gress tried to make reforms; it planned a 
new army, directed the states to furnish 
their quotas to serve during the war, but 
was powerless to make the states do so. New 
articles of war were also adopted. 

Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 



Washington did not intend that posterity 
should be ignorant of his case. He wrote 
Lund Washington, September 30: "In short, 
such is my situation that if I were to wish 
the bitterest curse to an enemy on this 
side of the grave, I should put him in my 
stead with my feelings; and yet I do not 
know what plan of conduct to pursue. I 
see the impossibility of serving with repu- 
tation, or doing any essential service to the 
cause by continuing in command, and yet I 
am told that if I quit the command inevi- 
table ruin will follow from the distraction 
that will ensue. In confidence I tell you 
that I never was in such an unhappy, di- 
vided state since I was born. To lose all 
comfort and happiness on the one hand, 
whilst I am fully persuaded that under such 
a system of management as has been adopted, 
I cannot have the least chance for reputa- 
tion, nor those allowances made which the 
nature of the case requires; and to be told, 
on the other, that if I leave the service 
all will be lost, is, at the same time that I 
am bereft of every peaceful moment, dis- 
tressing to a degree. But I will be done 
with the subject, with the precaution to you 
that it is not a fit one to be publicly known 
or discussed. If I fall, it may not be amiss 
that these circumstances be known, and 
declaration made in credit to the justice of 
my character." 

The retreat across New Jersey began 
November 20, the army dwindling with 
every march, until, December 8, it finally 
stood on the western bank of the Delaware 
River a mere skeleton, and that made up of 
men whose term of enlistment was already 
expired or about to expire, and with the 
general's letters continuing his unremittent 
urgings upon Congress, and nearer despair 
than at any other time during the war. He 
voiced this to Lund Washington on Decem- 
ber 17: "Our only dependence now is upon 
the speedy enlistment of a new army. If 
this fails, I think the game will be pretty 
well up." Yet, "under the full persuasion 
of the justice of our cause, I cannot enter- 
tain an Idea, that it will finally sink, tho' 
it may remain for some time under a cloud." 
But that cloud, and without a new army, 
he removed by the brilliant operations at 
Trenton and Princeton, making winter 
quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, with 
that state recovered and the British again 
confined to the immediate vicinity of New 
York City and Long Island. 


Congress meanwhile, somewhat recovered 
from its scare, but not yet returned to Phila- 
delphia from Baltimore because of the fear 
of a new British movement against the 
Quaker city, was energetic — in debate, and 
took the field — on paper, in spite of the 
dictatorial power which was, presumably, 
still active. It resolved that it would be 

"agreeable to Congress," if the troops under 
Heath were called over to the main army, 
that the general-in-chief "order all the con- 
tinental troops that are at Providence, im- 
mediately to join him," that troops enlisted 
march immediately to join the army, and 
that the authorities of New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania order their militia to the same 
front; since it was the "earnest desire of 
Congress to make the army under the im- 
mediate command of General Washington, 
sufficiently strong, not only to curb and 
confine the enemy within their present quar- 
ters, and prevent them from drawing sup- 
port of any kind from the country, but by 
the divine blessing, totally to subdue them 
before they can be reinforced." Burke of 
North Carolina in his notes on this debate 
wrote: "This [last] pompous Paragraph was 
very much Condemned by some gentlemen 
as an unworthy Gasconade, and it was 
warmly debated. North Caroli[na] observed 
that Threats were unbecoming a Private 
Gentleman, and much more unbecoming a 
Political Body. That this pompous boast if 
not realised would render the Congress ex- 
ceedingly rideculous, and there was great 
reason to fear it would not, that our vigor 
ought to appear by Efforts, not Words, that 
at best it was an useless superfluity and 
ought to be expunged, the Question was 
put and Jersey Pensylvania North Carolina 
and South Carolina voted for expunging, the 
rest for retaining. . . . there appeared upon 
the whole debate a great desire in the Dele- 
gates of the Eastern States, and in one of 
New Jersey to insult the General." 

Washington's comment, March 14, on the 
resolutions is pathetic: "Could I accomplish 
the important objects so eagerly wished by 
Congress, ... I should be happy indeed. 
But what prospect or hope can there be of 
my effecting so desirable a work at this 
time? The enclosed return, to which I solicit 
the most serious attention of Congress, com- 
prehends the whole force I have in Jersey. 
It is but a handful, and bears no proportion, 
in the scale of numbers, to that of the 
enemy. Added to this, the major part is 
made up of militia. The most sanguine in 
speculation cannot deem it more than ade- 
quate to the least valuable purposes of war. 
The reinforcements mentioned to be drawn 
from General Heath were merely ideal; 
nearly the whole of the eastern troops, who 
were with him, being here before. They 
were only engaged till to-day; and to-day 
they leave the camp. . . . What prospect 
there may be of immediate succors from 
other quarters, I know not; ... I confess, 
Sir, I feel the most painful anxiety when I 
reflect on our situation and that of the 
enemy. Unless the levies arrive soon, we 
must before long experience some interesting 
and melancholy events. . . . On recurring 
to the last promotions of brigadiers, I find 
the number appointed to be short of what I 
took the liberty to recommend, and not 
competent to the exigencies of the service, 
supposing the whole in office before, and 

those lately created, consent to act, which 
I have reason to believe will not be the case." 


Congress retaining the power to appoint 
general officers, even under the resolves giv- 
ing the virtual — if temporary — dictatorship, 
its action in this matter was a fertile cause 
of discontent on the part of officers who did 
not receive the rewards their merits — on 
their own estimation of the same — deserved; 
and it was, of course, to Washington that 
the complaints and threats of resignation 
were made. Sullivan was piqued because he 
did not have a "separate" command. Arnold 
was passed over in the appointment of major- 
generals — the beginning of the discontent 
that ended in treason — and on April 3, 1777, 
Washington acknowledged his surprise but 
advised against "any hasty step," adding: 
"General Greene . . . was informed, that 
the members from each State seemed to in- 
sist upon having a proportion of general 
officers, adequate to the number of men 
which they furnish, and that, as Connecti- 
cut had already two major-generals, it was 
their full share. I confess this is a strange 
mode of reasoning; but it may serve to show 
you, that a promotion, which was due to 
your seniority, was not overlooked for want 
of Merit in you." 

The attitude of Congress was consistent 
with that expressed by John Adams: "I will 
vote upon the general principles of a re- 
public for a new election of General Officers 
annually." He had "no fear from the resig- 
nation of Officers if junior Officers are pre- 
ferred to them. If they have virtue they 
will continue with us. If not, their resig- 
nation will not hurt us." 


Howe's campaign of 1777 having finally 
disclosed its objective as Philadelphia, Con- 
gress again went into retirement. On Au- 
gust 22 it voted that it wished "the General 
... to proceed in such manner, as shall 
appear to him most conducive to the general 
interest," and on the next day, that the 
President should "inform General Washing- 
ton, that Congress never intended by any 
commission hitherto granted by them, or by 
the establishment of any department what- 
ever, to supersede or circumscribe the power 
of General Washington as the commander 
in chief of all the continental land force 
within the United States." On September 
17, after the battle of Brandywine and when 
the fall of Philadelphia impended, it again 
bestowed high powers on the general for 
sixty days, and later continued them to 
March 1. Congress adjourned to Lancaster, 
met there one day, September 27, and then 
crossed the Susquehanna to York. Having 
neglected once more to make adequate prepa- 
rations, partly, indeed, because it was with- 
out the power to move the states into action 
even when convinced of the need, it left 
the commander and the fragmentary army 
to bear the consequences, which in this par- 


Honor to George Washington 

ticular case included the winter cantonment 
at Valley Forge, with the breakdown of both 
the commissary and quartermaster depart- 
ments. Congress, December 10, reproved 
Washington for not making requisitions, 
being able to "impute his forbearance . . . 
to a delicacy in exerting military authority 
on the citizens of the states; a delicacy, 
which though highly laudable in general, 
may, on critical exigencies, prove destruc- 
tive to the army and prejudicial to the gen- 
eral liberties of America." This was what 
Lovell, Massachusetts delegate, called rap- 
ping "a Demi G - - over the Knuckles." 
Washington confessed that he felt "greatly 
embarrassed with respect to a vigorous ex- 
ercise of military power," because the people 
at large "have ever looked with a jealous 
and suspicious eye" on the acts of military 



Between Washington and Congress, how- 
ever, the most important matter as respects 
its possible effect on American history was 
the intrigues, and especially the Conway 
Cabal. Congressional opposition to Wash- 
ington had been growing during 1777. 
Henry Laurens writing to his son John, who 
was on Washington's staff, reported on these 
growlings as early as October, and his later 
letters throw new light on the matter. The 
Cabal itself, which according to Burnett, is 
still partly a mystery, was only one phase of 
the opposition, of what Burnett terms the 
"whines and whiffling criticisms, the nag- 
ging tactics, the snaps and snarls of small- 
fry politicians in Congress." Washington, 
perhaps not unconscious that he was a chosen 
instrument, kept silent until he was able to 
demolish the conspiracy with a single phrase. 

That ended the only attempt to displace 
him as the head of the army, since the Cabal 
could not stand exposure. Yet the backbit- 
ing, in which Lovell was prominent, went 
on. Lovell complained of the "privy Coun- 
cellors of one great Man whom no citizen 
shall dare even to talk about, say Gentlemen 
of the Blade." In the end the caviling died 
down. This was inevitable, for it lacked 
public support. Burnett says: "In viewing 
this episode of our history in which a severe 
indictment stands against many members of 
Congress, sometimes indeed against a ma- 
jority of them, it should not be forgotten 
that there remained nevertheless in Congress 
many hearts that were right and heads with 
wisdom to perceive that with Washington 
they might win, without him they must lose. 
. . . And this conviction not only took 
deeper and deeper hold upon the minds of 
Congress, it speedily gripped the mind and 
heart of the nation. It does to this day." 


Washington, besides his effective stifling 

of the Cabal, made other references that 

showed his scorn of the whole affair and of 

the wider opposition. He wrote Laurens 

privately, January 31: "I was not unap- 
prized, that a malignant faction had been 
for some time forming to my prejudice; 
which, conscious as I am of having ever 
done all in my power to answer the im- 
portant purposes of the trust reposed in me, 
could not but give me some pain on a per- 
sonal account. But my chief concern arises 
from an apprehension of the dangerous con- 
sequences, which intestine dissensions may 
produce to the common cause. As I have no 
other view than to promote the public good, 
and am unambitious of honors not founded 
in the approbation of my country, I would 
not desire in the least degree to suppress a 
free spirit of inquiry into any part of my 
conduct, that even faction itself may deem 
reprehensible. . . . My enemies take an 
ungenerous advantage of me. They know 
the delicacy of my situation, and that mo- 
tives of policy deprive me of the defence I 
might otherwise make against their insidious 
attacks. They know I cannot combat their 
insinuations, however injurious, without dis- 
closing secrets, which it is of the utmost 
moment to conceal." 


One of the affronts put upon him by the 
prevailing spirit of Congress was in con- 
nection with a general cartel. This had 
been a serious and long standing problem, 
which seemed about to be solved. Wash- 
ington's letters to the President of Congress 
tell the story. March 7, 1778, he wrote: 
"I was about to send commissioners to meet 
those appointed by General Howe . . . but, 
yesterday morning, ... I found that a 
resolution had been made on the 26th of 
February, calling for all accounts against 
prisoners in our hands, and declaring that 
no exchange should take place, till the bal- 
ance due thereon to the United States is 
discharged. . . . This resolution I cannot 
consider as an intended infraction of my 
engagements with General Howe; yet its 
operation is diametrically opposite both to 
the spirit and letter of the propositions made 
on my part, and acceded to on his. I sup- 
posed myself fully authorized 'by the in- 
structions and intentions' of Congress to act 
as I did; and I now conceive, that the public 
as well as mv own personal honor and faith 
are pledged for the performance. ... it is 
much to be feared, if the exchange should 
be deferred till the terms of the last resolve 
were fulfilled, that it would be difficult to 
prevent our being generally accused of a 
breach of good faith." He wrote again, 
April 4: "It gives me pain to observe they 
appear to contain several implications by 
which my sensibility is not a little wounded." 

This letter caused a furore in Congress. 
Burke of North Carolina in his account of 
it declared that an important phase was the 
exchange of Lee, which might not be effected 
by the military agreement but upon which 
Congress was determined. It is a valid pre- 
sumption that the malcontents expected to 
find in him a new leader against Washing- 

ton. Burke wrote that Washington "recom- 
mends that the Laws be suffered to sleep 
. . . and that a rule of practice be adopted 
directly contrary to them; but this proposal 
met with very great and almost general op- 
position and indignation in Congress." The 
proposed letter to the General and the debate 
on it were so virulent that Laurens wrote 
his son, April 9: "I am greatly distressed by 
circumstances now in agitation respecting 
your friend. I think I once said 'I hope he 
will never afford him or them his own con- 
sent to hurt him,' " meaning, thereby, forc- 
ing him to resign. The letter as reported 
bore these statements: "by strictly attending 
to their Resolutions you will find they are 
founded in Humanity as well as Policy, and 
invariably regard the Dignity, Safety and 
Independence of these States. ... It is the 
unalterable Determination of Congress, that 
unless this Point [the preliminary exchange 
of Lee] is acceded to, all further Negotia- 
tions . . . should cease, it being in their 
Opinion more eligible that no Cartel should 
take Place, than that the honor of these 
States should be sullied, and their Wisdom 
impeached, ... I am further directed, Sir, 
by Congress to inform you, that in their 
opinion, the late Conduct and Correspond- 
ence of General Howe, render a strict At- 
tention to the Support of the Dignity of 
these Free and Independent States, at this 
time peculiarly necessary; and that they 
esteem that Dignity Injured by permitting 
the Enemy's Officers ... to go on Parole, 
before ours are sent out: a Practice admit- 
ting an Imputation of a want of good 
Faith on our Part, and a Perfect Confidence 
in an enemy whom we cannot trust: . . . 
they therefore doubt not from your Zeal for 
the Honor of these States, that you will pay 
a strict Attention to this Matter, as nothing 
can tend to sink us both in our Estimation 
and in that of all the World, than a patient 
Submission to that Insolent Superiority, 
which our Enemies affect in carrying on 
this War." 

This, however, was too much for Burke 
who, by absenting himself, prevented a 
quorum, and the obnoxious matter was later 
cut out of the letter. The letter as sent, 
contained the following expression: "Con- 
gress with great Concern perceive that your 
Sensibility is wounded by their Resolutions. 
Placing the finest Confidence in your Pru- 
dence, Abilities and Integrity, they wish to 
preserve that Harmony with you, which is 
essential to the general Weal: you may be 
assured that far from any Intention to give 
you Pain, their Resolutions have no other 
Motive or End, but the public Good; they, 
therefore hope that you will not in future 
be distrest by Apprehensions, as injurious to 
their Honor, as they are to your own Feel- 

ALLIANCE (1778) 

North's proposals for reconciliation were 
under consideration during 1778. Washing- 

Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 


ton urged that Congress be not misled by 
them, since "nothing short of independence, 
it appears to me, can possibly do," taking 
the initiative in a manner that is suggestive 
not only of the real leadership but also of 
a realization of it on his part; but Congress 
was in complete harmony with the gen- 
eral's view and the affair had no influence 
upon their mutual relations. The same is 
true as to the French alliance, though he 
gave warning early of the danger of a let- 
down from too great expectations and de- 
pendence on it. It is questionable, however, 
whether he realized how great that danger 
was, though he was aware of the possible 
political effect. In the matter of the Cana- 
dian expedition which Congress had voted, 
he wrote November 11, 1778: "I am sorry 
to say that the plan proposed . . . does not 
appear to me to be eligible under our pres- 
ent circumstances," giving military reasons 
for it. But three days later he wrote Lau- 
rens privately: "The question of the Cana- 
dian expedition, in the form it now stands, 
appears to me one of the most interesting 
that has hitherto agitated our national de- 
liberations. I have one objection to it, 
untouched in my public letter, which is, in 
my estimation, insurmountable, and alarms 
all my feelings for the true and permanent 
interests of my country. This is the intro- 
duction of a large body of French troops 
into Canada, and putting them in possession 
of the capital of that Province, attached to 
them by all the ties of blood, habits, man- 
ners, religion, and former connexion of 
Government. I fear this would be too great 
a temptation to be resisted by any power 
actuated by the common maxims of national 
policy." Under such circumstances he wel- 
comed the direction of Congress to repair 
to Philadelphia in order to confer on the 
next campaign and military problems in gen- 
eral. The Canadian expedition was dropped; 
but by 1781 Washington himself was ready, 
in his instructions to John Laurens who was 
being sent to France, to implore for a lib- 
eral financial aid and more troops, as "in- 
despensable" to the safety of the United 


The clash over the necessity of an ade- 
quate army continued. In the summer of 
1780 he went over the whole ground with 
the Congressional Committee of Co-opera- 
tion, evidently with conviction. He also 
once more admonished Congress, "we are 
again relapsing into the same Chaos." But 
the committee on its return to Philadelphia 
met with such a reception as gave Wash- 
ington "much pain," as he wrote Delegate 
Mathews, who had been a member of the 
committee, October 4: "At a time when 
public harmony was so essential, when we 
should aid and assist each other with all our 
abilities, when our hearts should be open to 
information and our hands ready to admin- 
ister relief, to find distrusts and jealousies 

taking possession of the mind, and a party 
spirit prevailing, is a most melancholy re- 
flection, and forbodes no good." 

And to Delegate Duane, the same day: "I 
should have been happy in the information 
you give me, that some progress had been 
made in the business of raising a permanent 
army, had it not been intimated to me, 
through other channels, that in the resolu- 
tions framed on this article, the fatal al- 
ternative of for one year has been admitted. 
. . . The present juncture is, in my opinion, 
peculiarly favorable to a permanent army, 
and I regret that an opening is given for a 
temporary one. It also gives me pain to 
find, that the pernicious State system is still 
adhered to, by leaving the reduction and 
incorporation, &c, of the regiments to the 
particular States. This is one of the great- 
est evils of our affairs. . . . The history of 
the war is a history of false hopes and tem- 
porary expedients. Would to God they 
were to end here!" 

But Congress as well as the General had 
begun to realize their relative positions, so 
the military plan as adopted was referred to 
Washington. He replied, courteously as al- 
ways, October 11: "I am much obliged to 
Congress for the honor they do me by the 
fresh mark of their attention and confi- 
dence, conferred upon me in the reference 
they have been pleased to make. My wish 
to concur in sentiment with them, and a 
conviction that there is no time to be lost 
in carrying the measures relative to the army 
into execution, make me reluctantly offer 
any objections to the plan, that has been 
adopted; but a sense of what I owe to Con- 
gress, and a regard to consistency, will not 
permit me to suppress the difference of 
opinion, which happens to exist upon the 
present occasion, on points that appear to 
me far from unessential. In expressing it, 
I can only repeat the ideas, which I have 
more than once taken the liberty to urge." 

REFORM (1778) 

Thereupon, as Steuben reported October 
23, "the plan of arrangement for the army, 
which your Excellency sent to Congress, has 
been agreed to without any alteration." 
Not that it was carried out; the political 
situation did not permit, and by the end of 
1778, Washington had begun to express 
freely the realization that he must have had 
much earlier, of the necessity of political 
amendment. He wrote Harrison, December 
18: "What may be the effect of such large 
and frequent emissions, of the dissentions, — 
parties, — extravagance, and a general lax of 
public virtue, Heaven alone can tell! I am 
afraid even to think of It. But it appears 
as clear to me as ever the Sun did in its 
meridian brightness, that America never 
stood in more eminent need of the wise, 
patriotic, and spirited exertions of her Sons 
than at this period; and if it is not a suffi- 
cient cause for genl. lamentation, my mis- 
conception of the matter impresses it too 

strongly upon me, that the States, separately, 
are too much engaged in their local con- 
cerns, and have too many of their ablest 
men withdrawn from the general council, 
for the good of the common weal. In a 
word, I think our political system may be 
compared to the mechanism of a clock, and 
that our conduct should derive a lesson from 
it; for it answers no good purpose to keep 
the smaller wheels in order, if the greater 
one, which is the support and prime mover 
of the whole, is neglected. . . . 

"I have seen nothing since I came here 
[Philadelphia] ... to change my opinion of 
Men or Measrs., but abundant reason to be 
convinced that our affairs are in a more dis- 
tressed, ruinous, and deplorable condition 
than they have been in since the commence- 
ment of the War. ... If I was to be called 
upon to draw a picture of the times and of 
Men, from what I have seen, and heard, and 
in part know, I should in one word say that 
idleness, dissipation & extravagance seems to 
have laid fast hold of most of them. — That 
speculation — peculation — and an insatiable 
thirst for riches seems to have got the better 
of every other consideration and almost of 
every order of Men. — That party disputes 
and personal quarels are the great business 
of the day whilst the momentous concerns of 
an empire — a great and accumulated debt — 
ruined finances — depreciated money — and 
want of credit (which in their consequences 
is the want of everything) are but secondary 
considerations and postponed from day to 
day — from week to week as if our affairs 
wear the most promising aspect — after 
drawing this picture, which from my Soul 
I believe to be a true one, I need not repeat 
to you that I am alarmed and wish to see 
my Countrymen aroused." 

AFFAIRS (1779) 

He wrote Jay, President of Congress, 
March 1, 1779: "I have been a little sur- 
prised, that the several important pieces of 
intelligence lately received from Europe 
. . . have not been given to the public in 
a manner calculated to attract the attention 
and impress the minds of the people. . . . 
I have taken the liberty to trouble you with 
this hint, as sometimes things the most ob- 
vious escape attention." Again, April 23: 
"In one of your former letters you intimate, 
that a free communication of sentiments 
will not be displeasing to you. If, under 
this sanction, I should step beyond the line 
you would wish to draw, and suggest ideas, 
and ask questions, which are improper to 
be answered, you have only to pass them 
by in silence. I wish you to be convinced, 
that I do not desire to pry into measures, 
the knowledge of which is not necessary 
for my government as an executive officer 
[he does not say military!], or the prema- 
ture discovery of which might be prejudicial 
to the plans in contemplation." Then he 
proceeds to make suggestions about the 
navy, Bermudian trade, and state of the cur- 


Honor to George Washington 

rency. These were scarcely military mat- 
ters. On September 7 he gave Jay his 
opinions on the European situation. An- 
other indication was the greater frequency 
with which he wrote directly to the state 
authorities, ignoring Congress, the self- 
chosen medium for such communications. 
He had even appealed directly to the inhabi- 
tants of the middle states on February 18, 
1778, though he might have justified that 
by his then existing enlarged direct powers. 
He corresponded directly with the French 
ministers; he issued circular letters to the 
states; he wrote to the commissioners at 
Paris. He may not have been conscious of 
the change, but it was there; the instinct of 
leadership was arousing and preparing to 
move into larger quarters. 

BILITY (1780) 
By 1780 the experience with a Congress 
that had no power to uphold its decrees, 
which could order by what Washington 
called "a timid kind of recommendations" 
but never enforce obedience upon the states, 
which had indeed no legal position other 
than that of wartime acceptance, showed 
clearly in Washington's writings. In a let- 
ter to Duane, May 13, 1780, he welcomed 
the "endeavors to accomplish the Confed- 
eration;" and wrote Joseph Jones, another 
delegate, that same month: "Certain I am, 
unless Congress speak in a more decisive 
tone, unless they are vested with powers by 
the several States competent to the great 
purposes of war, or assume them as matter 
of right, and they and the States respectively 
act with more energy than they hitherto 
have done, that our cause is lost. We can 
no longer drudge on in the old way. By 
ill timing the adoption of measures, by de- 
lays in the execution of them, or by unwar- 
rantable jealousies, we incur enormous ex- 
penses and derive no benefit from them. 
One State will comply with a requisition of 
Congress; another neglects to do it; a third 
executes it by halves; and all differ either 
in the manner, the matter, or so much in 
point of time, that we are always working 
up hill, and ever shall be; and, while such 
a system as the present one or rather want 
of one prevails, we shall ever be unable to 
apply our strength or resources to any ad- 
vantage. This, my dear Sir, is plain lan- 
guage to a member of Congress; but it is 
the language of truth and friendship. It is 
the result of long thinking, close application, 
and strict observation. I see one head gradu- 
ally changing into thirteen. I see one army 
branching into thirteen, which, instead of 
looking up to Congress as the supreme con- 
trolling power of the United States, are 
considering themselves as dependent on their 
respective States. In a word, I see the 
powers of Congress declining too fast for 
the consideration and respect, which are due 
to them as the great representative body of 
America, and I am fearful of the conse- 

And in his circular to the states on the 
new army plan, October 18, he was very 
explicit in his condemnation of their recalci- 
trant attitude. "Every motive which can 
arise from a consideration of our circum- 
stances, either in a domestic or foreign point 
of view, calls upon us to abandon temporary 
expedients and substitute something du- 
rable, systematic, and substantial. This ap- 
plies as well to our civil administration as 
to our military establishment. It is as 
necessary to give Congress, the common 
head, sufficient powers to direct the com- 
mon forces, as it is to raise an army for the 
war; but I should go out of my province 
to expatiate on civil affairs.'" 


His constructive criticism of Congress be- 
came even more direct, as in a letter to Sul- 
livan, then a delegate, November 20: "This 
leads me to a remark, which I could wish 
never to make, and which is, that the multi- 
plicity of business, in which Congress are 
engaged, will not let them extend that sea- 
sonable and provident care to many mat- 
ters, which private convenience and public 
ceconomy indispensably call for, and proves, 
in my opinion, the evident necessity of com- 
mitting more of the executive business to 
small boards or responsible characters, than 
is practised at present; for I am very well 
convinced, that, for want of system in the 
execution of business, and a proper timing 
of things, that our public expenditures are 
inconceivably greater than they ought to 

This was probably merely an expression of 
a general opinion; nevertheless it is interest- 
ing to note that on February 7, 1781, which 
was before the consent of Maryland made 
the Articles of Confederation active, a plan 
for executive departments — finance, war, 
and marine — was agreed to, a department of 
foreign affairs having been previously estab- 
lished. Washington welcomed these depart- 
ments: "Proper Powers to and a judicious 
choice of men to fill these departments, will 
soon lead us to system, order, & ceconomy — 
without which our affairs, already on the 
brink of ruin, would soon have passed re- 
demption." And he remonstrated against 
the delay in making the appointments. 


It is significant, however, that his com- 
ment on the Articles of Confederation 
going into operation was merely that it 
would "undoubtedly enable Congress to 
speak with more decision in their requisi- 
tions on the respective States." Evidently 
he did not consider the Articles as effecting 
the political reforms he desired; he wrote 
Custis just before they became active on 
March 1, 1781, of the necessity of vesting 
Congress with competent powers. "A 
nominal head which at present is but another 
name for Congress, will no longer do. That 

honorable body, after hearing the interests 
and views of the several States fairly dis- 
cussed and explained by their respective 
representatives, must dictate, and not merely 
recommend and leave it to the States after- 
wards to do as they please, which, as I have 
observed before, is in many cases to do 
nothing at all." 

To Harrison, March 4, 1783, he was even 
more vehement: "What, my dear Sir, could 
induce the State of Virginia to rescind their 
assent to the Impost Law? . . . The Alarm 
Bell which has been rung with such tremen- 
dous sound of the danger of entrusting Con- 
gress with the money is too selfish & futile 
to require a serious answer — Who are Con- 
gress, but the People? — do they not return 
to them at certain short periods? — Are they 
not amenable at all times to them for their 
Conduct — & subject to recall? — What in- 
terests therefore can a man have under these 
circumstances distinct from his Constitu- 
ents? — Can it be supposed, that with design, 
he would form a junto — or dangerous Aris- 
tocracy that would operate against himself 
in less than a Month perhaps after it should 
be established? — I can have no conception 
of it. But from the observations I have 
made in the course of this war — and my 
intercourse with the States both in their 
united and seperate capacities have afforded 
ample opportunities of judging — I am de- 
cidedly of opinion that if the Powers of 
Congress are not enlarged, and made com- 
petent to all general purposes that the blood 
that has been spilt — the Expences which 
have been incurred — and the distresses which 
we have undergone will avail us nothing — 
and that the band which at present holds us 
together, by a very feeble thread, will soon 
be broken when anarchy & confusion must 


After Yorktown victory was in the air, 
though he wrote in June, 1782, that the 
"end of our warfare is not to be obtained 
but by vigorous exertions"; and the concern 
turned from how to get and use an army 
to what to do with the army already on 
hand. With approaching peace and the 
inevitable result to discipline of inaction, 
the troops began to think more than ever 
of their past hardships, present prospects, 
and future rewards, and threatened not to 
disband until they had received justice. 

The discontent of the officers culminated 
in the Newburgh Addresses; the principal 
one was later claimed by Armstrong, Gates's 
aide, but possibly Hamilton and Gouver- 
neur Morris engineered the movement. 
Hamilton had urged Washington to take 
the lead in the army's plan for redress, but 
under cover, and even suggested Knox as 
a proper dummy. Washington's reply to the 
Addresses, March 15, 1783, prevented the 
crisis. Madison wrote: "The steps taken by 
the General to evert the gathering storm, 
and his professions of inflexible adherence to 
his duty to Congress and to his country. 

Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 


excited the most affectionate sentiments to- 
wards him." In that reply, the general 
gave the expression of his final public opinion 
of the wartime Congress: "I cannot, in 
justice to my own belief, and what I have 
great reason to conceive is the intention of 
Congress, conclude this address without giv- 
ing it as my decided opinion, that that hon- 
orable body entertain exalted sentiments of 
the services of the army, and, from a full 
conviction of its merits and sufferings, will 
do it complete justice. That their endeavors 
to discover, and establish funds for this pur- 
pose have been unwearied, and will not cease, 
till they have succeeded, I have no doubt; 
but, like all other large bodies, where there 
is a variety of different interests to reconcile, 
their deliberations are slow. Why then 
should we distrust them; and, in conse- 
quence of that distrust, adopt measures, 
which may cast a shade over that glory, 
which has been so justly acquired, and tar- 
nish the reputation of an army, which is 
celebrated through all Europe for its forti- 
tude and patriotism? And for what is this 
done? To bring the object we seek nearer? 
No! Most certainly, in my opinion, it will 
cast it at a greater distance. For myself 
. . . I . . . declare in this public and 
solemn manner, that, in the attainment of 
complete justice for all your toils and dan- 
gers, and in the gratification of every wish, 
so far as may be done consistently with the 
great duty I owe to my country, and those 
powers we are bound to respect, you may 
freely command my services to the utmost 
extent of my abilities." 

But his private letters to Jones and Har- 
rison show his realization that even if Con- 
gress were willing nothing would result from 
his efforts unless the states did their duty 
by providing the funds. It was much of a 
grandstand play after all, which only his 
great prestige made successful, for a letter 
written soon after to Hamilton showed 
clearly that he had no expectation of 
progress until there had been a radical 
change in the basis of the union. 

So it happened that when he surrendered 
his commission to Congress at Annapolis at 
the end of the year, the army had already 
dispersed. An earlier episode is worthy of 
notice and it is interesting to speculate 
whether it would not have been much more 
important if he had not used his great in- 
fluence to soothe the officers. This was the 
suggestion of kingship. Col. Lewis Nicola, 
who was the medium of the suggestion, had 
been in 1782 selected by the officers to con- 
fer with Washington about their griev- 
ances; he addressed to the general, possibly 
at the instigation of others, possibly not, a 
paper in which he spoke of the weakness of 
republics and ended, "I believe strong argu- 
ments might be produced for admitting the 
title of King, which I conceive would be 
attended with some material advantages." 
Washington's reaction was immediate and 

explicit. His reply to the colonel was 
written on May 22, and he deemed it so 
important that he had Humphreys and 
Trumbull, aide and secretary, certify to the 
exactness of the copy he kept. "With a 
mixture of great surprise and astonishment, 
I have read with attention the sentiments 
you have submitted to my perusal. Be as- 
sured, Sir, no occurence in the course of the 
war has given me more painful sensations, 
than your information of there being such 
ideas existing in the army, as you have ex- 
pressed, and I must view with abhorrence 
and reprehend with severity. For the pres- 
ent the communicatn. of them will rest in 
my own bosom, unless some further agita- 
tion of the matter shall make a disclosure 
necessary. I am much at a loss to conceive 
what part of my conduct could have given 
encouragement to an address, which to me 
seems big with the greatest mischiefs, that 
can befall my Country. If I am not de- 
ceived in the knowledge of myself, you could 
not have found a person to whom your 
schemes are more disagreeable. . . . Let me 
conjure you, then, if you have any regard 
for your Country, concern for yourself or 
posterity, or respect for me, to banish these 
thoughts from your mind, and never com- 
municate, as from yourself or any one else, 
a sentiment of the like nature." 

The surrender of the commission to Con- 
gress was the occasion of mutual felicita- 
tions as well as much natural emotion. 
Washington might well have passed in re- 
view in his mind his repeated admonitions 
and prophecies of irretrievable ruin unless 
certain reforms were made, which never 
were made. How did it happen that in spite 
of all his forebodings the army kept the 
field, the obvious weakness of Congress was 
not fatal, the recalcitrancy of the states did 
not utterly destroy, and a successful war 
brought independence? Washington does 
not attempt an explanation unless a charac- 
teristic statement in his farewell to the army 
may be so considered: "The singular inter- 
positions of Providence in our feeble condi- 
tion were such, as could scarcely escape the 
attention of the most unobserving; while the 
unparalleled perseverance of the armies of 
the United States, through almost every 
possible suffering and discouragement for the 
space of eight long years, was little short 
of a standing miracle." The proper sum- 
ming up of the reasons has yet to be made, 
and in the recent death of Professor Van 
Tyne history has been deprived of the 
scholar probably best equipped to make it. 
Many factors entered into it: foreign aid 
and European conditions were a fundamental 
element; a greater determination on the part 
of the people than Washington suspected 
was probably there and it rose to meet 
crises; British mistakes; development of 
American generalship; the Allies' temporary 
control of the sea; even the militia did its 
appreciable part in such emergencies as the 

Burgoyne and Yorktown campaigns, and in 
the harrowing of the British army in the 
South; above all, Washington probably did 
not realize the power of his own great 
example and influence. 

One change which he made in his fare- 
well address to Congress is of interest. 
Originally he wrote, "Happy in the con- 
firmation of our Independence and Sover- 
eignty, as well as in the contemplation of 
our prospects of national happiness," but as 
delivered the second phrase had become, 
"and pleased with the opportunity afforded 
the United States of becoming a respectable 
nation." He had written Hamilton on 
March 3 1 that he had a great inclination 
"to contribute my mite to pointing out all 
the defects of the present constitution"; 
and to Greene, Theodorick Bland, William 
Gordon, and others he continued to show 
the need of the reforms; as he expressed it, 
"all my private letters have teemed with 
these sentiments," and they continued to do 
so after his retirement. 



In his last circular letter to the states, 
June 8, 1783, he summed up his public 
utterances: "There are four things, which, 
I humbly conceive, are essential to the well- 
being, I may even venture to say, to the 
existence of the United States, as an inde- 
pendent power. 

"First. An indissoluble union of the States 
under one federal head. 

"Secondly. A sacred regard to public 

"Thirdly. The adoption of a proper peace 
establishment; and 

"Fourthly. The prevalence of that pacific 
and friendly disposition among the people 
of the United States, which will induce them 
to forget their local prejudices and policies; 
to make those mutual concessions, which 
are requisite to the general prosperity; and, 
in some instances, to sacrifice their indi- 
vidual advantages to the interest of the com- 
munity. . . . 

"Under the first head, . . . That, unless 
the States will suffer Congress to exercise 
those prerogatives they are undoubtedly in- 
vested with by the constitution, every thing 
must very rapidly tend to anarchy and con- 
fusion. That it is indispensable to the hap- 
piness of the individual States, that there 
should be lodged somewhere a supreme power 
to regulate and govern the general concerns 
of the confederated republic, without which 
the Union cannot be of long duration. That 
there must be a faithful and pointed com- 
pliance, on the part of every State, with 
the late proposals and demands of Congress, 
or the most fatal consequences will ensue. 
... It is only in our united character, as 
an empire, that our independence is acknowl- 
edged, that our power can be regarded, or 
our credit supported, among foreign na- 
tions. The treaties of the European powers 


Honor to George Washington 

with the United States of America will have 
no validity on a dissolution of the Union. 

"If, after all, a spirit of disunion, or a 
temper of obstinacy and perverseness should 
manifest itself in any of the States; if such 
an ungracious disposition should attempt to 
frustrate all the happy effects that might 
be expected to flow from the Union; if 
there should be a refusal to comply with the 
requisition for funds to discharge the an- 
nual interest of the public debts; and if that 
refusal should revive again all those jeal- 
ousies, and produce all those evils, which are 
now happily removed, Congress, who have, 
in all their transactions, shown a great de- 
gree of magnanimity and justice, will stand 
justified in the sight of God and man; and 
the State alone, which puts itself in opposi- 
tion to the aggregate wisdom of the conti- 
nent, and follows such mistaken and per- 
nicious counsels, will be responsible for all 
the consequences." 


In a letter to Lafayette, April 5, 1783, 
he makes the interesting statement that the 
reforms would probably be brought about 
only through the experience of their need: 
"We stand, now, an Independent People, 
and have yet to learn political Tactics. We 
are placed among the nations of the Earth, 
and have a character to establish; but how 
we shall acquit ourselves, time must dis- 
cover. The probability (at least I fear it), 
is that local or State politics will interfere 
too much with the more liberal and exten- 
sive plan of government, which wisdom and 
foresight, freed from the mist of prejudice, 
would dictate; and that we shall be guilty 
of many blunders in treading this bound- 
less theatre, before we shall have arrived at 
any perfection in this art; in a word, that 
the experience, which is purchased at the 
price of difficulties and distress, will alone 

convince us that the honor, power, and true 
Interest of this 'Country must be measured 
by a Continental scale, and that every de- 
parture therefrom weakens the Union, and 
may ultimately break the band which holds 
us together." Certainly the first years of 
peace furnished sufficient experience. 


He not only continued to see the danger, 
but now he began to fear that the necessary 
reforms would not take place. He wrote 
Jay, who was then Foreign Secretary, May 
18, 1786: "I shall find myself happily mis- 
taken if the remedies are at hand. We are 
certainly in a delicate situation; but my fear 
is, that the people are not yet sufficiently 
misled to retract from error. To be plainer, 
I think there is more wickedness than ig- 
norance mixed in our councils. Under this 
impression I scarcely know what opinion to 
entertain of a general convention. That it 
is necessary to revise and amend the articles 
of confederation, I entertain no doubt; but 
what may be the consequences of such an 
attempt is doubtful. Yet something must 
be done, or the fabric must fall, for it cer- 
tainly is tottering . . . From the high 
ground we stood upon, from the plain path 
which invited our footsteps, to be so fallen! 
so lost! it is really mortifying. But virtue, 
I fear, has in a great degree taken its de- 
parture from our land, and the want of a 
disposition to do justice is the source of the 
national embarrassments; . . ." 

It is noticeable here that his reference has 
turned from the states to the people; and 
this idea is also in a letter to Lafayette, May 
10, 1786, which, in addition shows that he 
did not entirely despair: "It is one of the 
evils of democratical government, that the 
people, not always seeing and frequently mis- 
led, must often feel before they can act 
right; but then evils of this nature seldom 
fail to work their own cure." 


He was to have his patience yet further 
tried, however, as in the final failure of the 
impost amendment and in the popular tu- 
mults, of which the most serious was the 
Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts. His com- 
ments on this are almost the last of those 
caused by, or at least under, the weak Con- 
federation. He expressed his mind to Flenry 
Lee, October 31, 1786: "You talk, my good 
Sir, of employing influence to appease the 
present tumults in Massachusetts. I know 
not where that influence is to be found, or, 
if attainable, that it would be a proper 
remedy for the disorders. Influence is no 
government. Let us have one by which our 
lives, liberties, and property will be secured, 
or let us know the worst at once. Under 
these impressions, my humble opinion is, 
that there is a call for decision. Know pre- 
cisely what the insurgents aim at. If they 
have real grievances, redress them if pos- 
sible; or acknowledge the justice of them, 
and your inability to do it in the present 
moment. If they have not, employ the force 
of government against them at once. If 
this is inadequate, all will be convinced, that 
the superstructure is bad, or wants support." 

Also to Knox, December 26: "I feel, my 
dear General Knox, infinitely more than I 
can express to you, for the disorders, which 
have arisen in these States. Good God! 
Who, besides a Tory, could have foreseen, 
or a Briton predicted them? Were these 
people wiser than others, or did they judge 
of us from the corruption and depravity of 
their own hearts?" But even in this letter 
there is mention of the new interest, of 
the proposed Federal Convention, which was 
to turn the speculations upon evils, the need 
of remedies, and the bewailing of the failure 
of inadequate, half-spirited, piecemeal efforts 
at reform, to the consideration of an active, 
general attempt to sweep away the old ham- 
pered government in favor of an entirely 
new plan. His interest and promotion of 
this is the subject of another article. 

Selected Authorities 

Ames, William Homer — Select List of 

Books dealing with the American Colonial 

and Revolutionary Periods. Philadelphia, 

Becker, Carl — Eve of the Revolution 

(Chronicles of America, Vol. XI). New 

Haven, Yale University Press, 1918. 
Burnett, Edmund C, ed. — Letters of 

Members of the Continental Congress. 

5 vols, pub., into 1781. Washington, 

Carnegie Institution, 1921 — . 
Channing, Edward — History of the 

United States. Vol. III. New York, 

Macmillan, 1912. 
Channing, Hart and Turner — Guide to 

the Study and Reading of American His- 

tory. Rev. ed. Boston, Ginn, 1912. 
(Especially §§ 149-153, 157-159, 166- 

Continental Congress — Journals. Ed. 
by Division of Manuscripts, Library of 
Congress. 29 vols, pub., through 1785. 
Washington, Government Printing Of- 
fice, 1904 — . 

Fisher, Sydney George — Struggle for 
American Independence. 2 vols. Phila- 
delphia, Lippincott, 1908. 

Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. — American 
History told by Contemporaries. 5 vols. 
New York, Macmillan, 1897-1929. 
(Especially Vol. II, pts. vi-viii, Vol. Ill, 
pt. iii.) 

Jameson, J. Franklin — American Revolu- 
tion considered as a Social Movement. 
Princeton, Princeton University Press, 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — George Washing- 
ton (American Statesman, Library ed.). 
2 vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 
(Especially Vol. I, chs. vi-x.) 

McMaster, John Bach — History of the 
People of the United States. Vol. I. New 
York, Appleton, 18 83. 

Nevins, Allan — American States during 
and after the Revolution. New York, 
Macmillan, 1924. 

Ogg, Frederick A. — Builders of the Re- 
public (Pageant of America, Vol. VIII). 

Washington the Colonial and National Statesman 


New Haven, Yale University Press, 1927. 
(Especially chs. ii-vi.) 

Osborn, Lucretia Perry, ed. — Washing- 
ton speaks for Himself. New York, 
Scribner, 1927. (Especially chs. iii-vi.) 

Sanders, Jennings B. — Presidency of the 
Continental Congress. Decatur, Ga., 

Sawyer, Joseph Dillaw ay — Washington. 
2 vols. New York, Macmillan, 1927. 
(Especially chs. xv-xxxii.) 

Schlesingfr, Arthur Meier — Colonial 

Merchants and the American Revolution, 
1765-1776. New York, Columbia, Uni- 
versity, 1918. 

Thayer, William Roscoe — George Wash- 
ington. Boston, Houghton Miftlin, 1922. 
(Especially chs. iii-vii.) 

Trevelyan, Sir George Otto — American 
Revolution. New ed. 4 vols. New 
York, Longmans Green, 1905-12. (Con- 
tinued by next title.) 

Trevelyan, Sir George Otto — George the 
Third and Charles Fox, the Concluding 

Part of the American Revolution. 2 vols. 

New York, Longmans Green, 1912-14. 
Van Tyne, Claude H. — Founding of the 

American Republic. Vols. I-II. Boston, 

Houghton Miftlin, 1922-29. 
Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 

Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 

New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 
Wilson, Woodrow — George Washington. 

New York, Harper, 1896. (Especially 

chs. v, vi, viii, ix.) 

— <3I: <# i£3»— 

Washington resigning His Commission 

From a painting by John Trumbull 

Pamphlet Number Seven 

Washington and the Constitution 

By David M. Matteson 
Part I 

George Washington 

From the Gilbert Stuart "Athenaeum" Portrait 

TION (1772-1785) 

lASHINGTON'S first link in the 
chain of the Federal Convention 
was his interest in the improve- 
ment of the Potomac River navi- 
gation. Development of a route into the 
West had long been under consideration. 
It was a concern of the original Ohio Com- 
pany, in which the Washington family was 
active; and George's early surveying and 
western journeys and campaigns, with the 
attendant acquirement of land, gave him 
both information and reason to advance the 

project. This improvement as a commercial 
and engineering matter is treated elsewhere 
in this series; here the concern is with its 
political relation. Through Washington's 
efforts Virginia in 1772 passed an act "em- 
powering Trustees ... to raise money . . . 
for the purpose of opening and extending 
the Navigation of Potowmack from the 
Tide water to Fort Cumberland." Nothing 
was accomplished, however, until the close 
of the Revolution, when the general's en- 
thusiasm for the project became great; and 
his western trip in 1784 was in part an 
inspection of possible water routes or of 

combined water and land routes over the 

His concern was not entirely economic. 
He realized that the developing West had a 
natural trade outlet down the Mississippi, 
and in order to counteract this tendency and 
to keep that distant region loyal to the yet 
fragile Union such an eastern route as he 
proposed was essential. He wrote Humph- 
reys, July 25, 1785: "My attention is more 
immediately engaged in a project, which I 
think big with great political, as well as 
commercial consequences to these States, 
especially the middle ones; it is by removing 
the obstructions and extending the inland 
navigation of our rivers, to bring the States 
on the Atlantic in close connexion with 
those forming to the westward, by a short 
and easy transportation. Without this, I can 
easily conceive they will have different 
views, separate interests, and other connex- 
ions. I may be singular in my ideas, but 
they are these; that, to open a door to, and 
make easy the way for, those settlers to the 
westward (which ought to progress regu- 
larly and compactly) before we make any 
stir about the navigation of the Mississippi, 
and before our settlements are far advanced 
towards that river, would be our true line 
of policy. 

"It can, I think, be demonstrated, that 
the produce of the western territory, (if 
the navigations which are now in hand suc- 
ceed, and of which I have no doubt,) as 
low down the Ohio as the Great Kanhawa, 
I believe to the Falls, and between the parts 
above and the Lakes, may be brought either 
to the highest shipping port on this or James 
river, at a less expense, with more ease, (in- 
cluding the return,) and in a much shorter 
time, than it can be carried to New Or- 
leans, if the Spaniards, instead of restricting, 
were to throw open their ports and invite 
our trade. But if the commerce of that 
country should embrace this channel, and 
connexions be formed, experience has taught 
us, and there is a very recent proof with 
great Britain, how next to impracticable It 
is to divert it; and, if that should be the 
case, the Atlantic States, (especially as those 
to the westward will in a great degree fill 
with foreigners,) will be no more to the 
present Union, except to excite perhaps very 
justly our fears, than the country of Cali- 


Washington and the Constitution 


fornia, which is still more to the westward, 
and belonging to another power." 

LAND (1784-1785) 

The Potomac was the boundary between 
Virginia and Maryland; indeed the waters 
were in the jurisdiction of the latter, Vir- 
ginia had only reserved her right of navi- 
gation; so that an agreement between the 
two states was essential. Jefferson shared in 
Washington's desire for the development, 
and so did Thomas Johnson, formerly Gov- 
ernor of Maryland. Washington wrote Jef- 
ferson, who was then in Congress at An- 
napolis, March 29, 17S4: "The plan, how- 
ever, was in a tolerably good train, when I 
set out for Cambridge in 1775, and would 
have been in an excellent way, had it not 
been for the difficulties, which were met 
with in the Maryland Assembly from the 
opposition which was given (according to 
report) by the Baltimore merchants, who 
were alarmed, and perhaps not without 
cause, at the consequence of water transpor- 
tation to Georgetown of the produce, which 
usually came to their market by land. The 
local interest of that place, joined to the 
short-sighted politics or contracted views of 
another part of that Assembly, gave Mr. 
Thomas Johnson, who was a warm promoter 
of the scheme on the north side of the Po- 
tomac, a great deal of trouble. ... It ap- 
pears to me, that the interest and policy of 
Maryland are proportionably concerned with 
those of Virginia, to remove obstructions, 
and to invite the trade of the western coun- 
try into the channel you have mentioned. 
You will have frequent opportunities of 
learning the sentiments of the principle 
characters of that State, respecting this mat- 
ter; and I wish, if it should fall in your 
way, that you would discourse with Mr. 
Thomas Johnson, formerly Governor of 
Maryland, on this subject." 

At this same time Madison was writing 
to Jefferson concerning methods of an 
agreement with Maryland on the use of the 
river; suggesting as best "a mutual appoint- 
ment of Commissioners for the general pur- 
pose of preserving a harmony and efficacy 
in the regulations on both sides." Accord- 
ingly, he carried through a resolution in the 
Virginia Assembly, June 28, 1784, for such 
a joint commission to "frame such liberal 
and equitable regulations concerning said 
river as may be mutually advantageous." 
Maryland agreed and the meeting was to 
take place in March, 178 5. 

Meanwhile Washington took his last trip 
over the mountains and returned more than 
ever persuaded of the need and possibility 
of the communication. He wrote Governor 
Harrison, October 10, a long letter on the 
subject, pointing out the efforts which 
Pennsylvania and New York were making, 
and the political consideration, "which is 
of still greater importance," since the "west- 
ern settlers (I speak now from my own 

observation) stand as it were upon a pivot. 
... A combination of circumstances makes 
the present conjuncture more favorable for 
Virginia, than for any other State in the 
Union, to fix these matters. . . . One thing 
more remains, . . . the supposed difficulty 
of obtaining a passage through the State of 
Pennsylvania. How an application to its 
legislature would be relished, in the first 
instance, I will not undertake to decide." 
After his return from this journey a mass 
meeting was held in Alexandria, November 
15, 1784, attended by gentlemen from both 
Maryland and Virginia. It is to be pre- 
sumed that Washington was there. The 
newspaper report on the meeting contains 
this interesting sentence: "This is perhaps 
a work of more political than commercial 
consequence, and it will be one of the 
grandest chains for preserving the Federal 

ENCE (1784-1785) 

Here then was a commercial project in 
active contemplation, which would involve 
the interests of at least three of the states. 
Washington sent to Richmond and also to 
Annapolis a bill to incorporate the company 
he desired, which passed both legislatures; 
but a conference was necessary to iron out 
differences. Washington headed the Vir- 
ginia delegation. He wrote Knox, January 
5, 1785: "I am just returned from An- 
napolis to which place I was requested to go 
by our Assembly (with my bosom friend 
Genl. G-tes, who being at Richmond con- 
trived to edge himself into the commission) 
for the purpose of arranging matters, and 
forming a Law which should be similar in 
both States, so far as it respected the river 
Potomack, which seperates them. I met 
the most perfect accordance in that legisla- 
ture; and the matter is now reported to ours, 
for its concurrence." 

The recommendations made were later 
approved by the two legislatures. Madison 
in commenting on the matter wrote, De- 
cember 2 5, 1784, that there would probably 
be provision made "for a survey of the dif- 
ferent routes for a communication between 
the waters of Elizabeth River and those of 
North Carolina." The Virginia Legislature 
adopted a resolution directing the commis- 
sioners who were to meet those from Mary- 
land the next summer to join "in a repre- 
sentation to Pennsylvania on the subject of 
the waters of the Ohio within her limits." 
Also it was well known that Maryland de- 
sired a canal connecting the waters of the 
Chesapeake and Delaware, which would in- 
volve yet one more state in the commercial 

The Maryland-Virginia joint commission 
on the navigation of the Potomac met in 
Alexandria on March 20, 1785, and con- 
tinued its meeting at Mount Vernon where 
the compact was signed, March 28. Madi- 
son on July 26 spoke of the "urgency of 
General Washington in the late negociation 

with Maryland." The outcome is a part of 
national history. Both legislatures ratified 
the compact, but Maryland, November 21, 
on the motion of Stone, who had been a 
signer of the document, asked for a further 
conference and proposed the inclusion of 
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Both these 
states accepted and Maryland appointed new 

VENTION (1786) 

Meanwhile, a resolution went very quickly 
through the Virginia Legislature, January 
21, 1786, which ignored Congress and ap- 
pointed commissioners to meet with such 
other commissioners as should be appointed 
by any of the states to consider the trade 
of the Union. These Virginia delegates, of 
whom Madison was the leader, issued invi- 
tations which were generally accepted; but 
delegates from only five states met at An- 
napolis in September, 1786. A report was 
prepared by Hamilton and a new convention 
was proposed to meet in Philadelphia the 
next May. This call was addressed directly 
to the states, but a copy was sent to Con- 
gress; that body in the end ignored the 
particular summons but issued an invita- 
tion of its own for the same place and time. 
Thus the Federal Convention of 1787 is 
linked up with the question of transporta- 
tion to the West. 

Washington had no public share in any 
of these preliminary matters, but his inter- 
est was active. Madison was a frequent 
visitor at Mount Vernon at this time, stay- 
ing over night or several days at a time. 
Mason and Edmund Randolph, as well as 
prominent men of other colonies, were also 
Washington's guests. The comments in his 
letters begin with one to Lafayette, May 
10, 1786: ". . . whilst a measure, in which 
this State has taken the lead at its last ses- 
sion, will, it is to be hoped, give efficient 
powers to that body tor ail commercial pur- 
poses. This is a nomination of some of its 
first characters to meet other commissioners 
from the several States, in order to consider 
of and decide upon such powers, as shall be 
necessary for the sovereign power of them 
to act under; which are to be reported to the 
respective legislatures at their autumnal ses- 
sions, for, it is to be hoped, final adoption; 
thereby avoiding those tedious and futile 
deliberations, which result from recommen- 
dations and partial concurrences, at the 
same time that it places it at once in the 
power of Congress to meet European nations 
upon decisive and equal ground. All the 
legislatures, which I have heard from, have 
come into the proposition, and have made 
very judicious appointments. Much good 
is expected from this measure, and it is 
regretted by many, that more objects were 
not embraced by the meeting. A general 
convention is talked of by many for the 
purpose of revising and correcting the de- 
fects of the federal government; but whilst 
this is the wish of some, it is the dread of 


Honor to George Washington 

others, from an opinion that matters are not 
yet sufficiently ripe for such an event." 

After the Annapolis Convention had ad- 
journed and its recommendation was before 
the Virginia Legislature, Washington wrote 
Madison, November 5 : "No morn ever 
dawned more favorably than ours did; and 
no day was ever more clouded than the pres- 
ent. Wisdom and good examples are neces- 
sary at this time to rescue the political ma- 
chine from the impending storm. Virginia 
has now an opportunity to set the latter, 
and has enough of the former, I hope, to 
take the lead in promoting this great and 
arduous work." 


Madison, in his reply, brought directly to 
the general the problem of breaking his 
retirement once more. He wrote, Novem- 
ber 8: "The expediency of complying with 
the recommendation from Annapolis in 
favor of a general revision of the federal 
system, was unanimously agreed to. A bill 
for the purpose is now depending, and in a 
form which attests the most federal spirit. 
As no opposition has been yet made, and it 
is ready for the third reading, I expect it 
will soon be before the public. It has been 
thought advisable to give this subject a very 
solemn dress, and all the weight which could 
be derived from a single State. This idea 
will also be pursued in the selection of char- 
acters to represent Virginia in the federal 
convention. You will infer our earnestness 
on this point from the liberty, which will be 
used, of placing your name at the head of 
them. How far this liberty may correspond 
with the ideas, by which you ought to be 
governed, will be best decided when it must 
ultimately be determined. In every event, 
it will assist powerfully in marking the zeal 
of our legislature, and its opinion of the 
magnitude of the occasion." 

For the next few months the struggle 
between Washington's wishes and his sense 
of public responsibility engrossed his corre- 
spondence. He wrote Madison, December 
16, stating that he had already refused to 
attend the meeting of the Cincinnati, also 
called for Philadelphia in May, and this alone 
would seem to preclude his attending the 
other convention; but adding: "That the 
present moment is pregnant of great and 
strange events, none who will cast their eyes 
around them can deny. What may be 
brought forth between this and the first of 
May, to remove the difficulties, which at 
present labor in my mind against the accept- 
ance of the honor, which has lately been 
conferred on me by the Assembly, is not for 
me to predict; but I should think it incom- 
patible with that candor, which ought to 
characterize an honest mind, not to declare, 
that, under my present view of the matter, 
I should be too much embarrassed by the 
meeting of these two bodies in the same 
place at the same moment, after what I 
have written to be easy in my situation, and 

therefore that it would be improper to let 
my appointment stand in the way of an- 
other. Of this, you, who have had the 
whole matter before you, will judge; for, 
having received no other than private inti- 
mation of my election, and unacquainted 
with the formalities, which are or ought to 
be used on these occasions, silence may be 
deceptious, or considered as disrespectful. 
This imputation of both or either I would 
wish to avoid." 

Madison persisted in his urging: "But I 
am still inclined to think, that the posture 
of our affairs, if it should continue, would 
prevent any criticism on the situation, which 
the contemporary meetings would place you 
in; and wish that at least a door could be 
left open for your acceptance hereafter, in 
case the gathering clouds should become so 
dark and menacing, as to supersede every 
consideration but that of our national exist- 
ence or safety. 5 

The retired warrior, anxious to know his 
duty, appealed then to Humphreys, his 
former aide, December 26: "That the fed- 
eral government is nearly if not quite at a 
stand, none will deny. The first question 
then is, shall it be annihilated or supported? 
If the latter, the proposed convention is an 
object of the first magnitude, and should be 
sustained by all the friends of the present 
constitution. In the other case, if, on a full 
and dispassionate revision, the continuance 
shall be adjudged impracticable or unwise, 
as only delaying an event which must ere 
long take place, would it not be better for 
such a meeting to suggest some other, to 
avoid if possible civil disorder or other im- 
pending evils? I must candidly confess, as 
we could not remain quiet more than three 
or four years in time of peace, under the 
constitutions of our own choosing, which 
it was believed, in many States at least, were 
formed with deliberation and wisdom, I see 
little prospect either of our agreeing upon 
any other, or that we should remain long 
satisfied under it if we could. Yet I would 
wish any thing and every thing essayed to 
prevent the effusion of blood, and to avert 
the humiliating and contemptible figure we 
are about to make in the annals of mankind. 
"If this second attempt to convene the 
States, for the purposes proposed by the re- 
port of the partial representation at An- 
napolis in September, should also prove 
abortive, it may be considered as an 
unequivocal evidence, that the States are not 
likely to agree on any general measure, 
which is to pervade the Union, and of course 
that there is an end of federal government. 
The States, therefore, which make the last 
dying essay to avoid these misfortunes, 
would be mortified at the issue, and their 
deputies would return home chagrined at 
their ill success and disappointment. This 
would be a disagreeable circumstance for any 
one of them to be in, but more particularly 
so for a person in my situation." 


Knox, too, was taken into his confidence; 
he wrote February 3, 1787: "Thus the mat- 
ter stands, which is the reason of my saying 
to you in confidence, that at present I retain 
my first intention not to go. In the mean 
while, as I have the fullest conviction of 
your friendship for and attachment to me, 
know your abilities to judge, and your means 
of information, I shall receive any communi- 
cation from you on this subject with thank- 
fulness. My first wish is to do for the 
best, and to act with propriety. You know 
me too well to believe, that reserve or con- 
cealment of any opinion or circumstance 
would be at all agreeable to me. The le- 
gality of this convention I do not mean to 
discuss, nor how problematical the issue of 
it may be. That powers are wanting none 
can deny. Through what medium they are 
to be derived will, like other matters, en- 
gage the attention of the wise. That, which 
takes the shortest course to obtain them, 
in my opinion will, under present circum- 
stances, be found best; otherwise, like a 
house on fire, whilst the most regular mode 
of extinguishing the flames is contended for, 
the building is reduced to ashes. My 
opinion of the energetic wants of the federal 
government are well known. My public an- 
nunciations and private declarations have 
uniformly expressed these sentiments; and, 
however constitutional it may be for Con- 
gress to point out the defects of the federal 
system, I am strongly inclined to believe, 
that it would not be found the most effica- 
cious channel for the recommendations, more 
especially the alterations, to flow, for rea- 
sons too obvious to enumerate." 

Given the advisability of the convention, 
he was not inclined to stress the question of 
unconstitutionality: "I would fain try what 
the wisdom of the proposed convention will 
suggest, and what can be effected by their 
counsels. It may be the last peaceable mode 
of essaying the practicability of the present 
form, without a greater lapse of time, than 
the exigency of our affairs will allow. In 
strict propriety, a convention so holden may 
not be legal. Congress, however, may give 
it a coloring by recommendation, which 
would fit it more to the taste, without pro- 
ceeding to a definition of the powers. This, 
however constitutionally it might be done, 
would not in my opinion be expedient." 

Still, as he wrote Humphreys again, 
March 8, the action of Congress in the mat- 
ter somewhat eased his troubles: "I am still 
indirectly and delicately pressed by many 
to attend this meeting; and a thought has 
run thro' my mind of late attended with 
more embarrassment than any former one. 
It is whether my not doing it will not be 
considered as an implied dereliction to Re- 
publicanism — nay more, whether (however 
injurious the imputation) it may not be 

Washington and the Constitution 


ascribed to other motives. My wish is I 
confess to see this Convention tied [tried?]; 
after which, if the present form is not made 
efficient, conviction of the propriety of a 
change will pervate all ranks, and many 
[may] be effected by peace. Till then, how- 
ever necessary it may appear to the more 
discerning part of the community, my 
opinion is, that it cannot be accomplished 
without great contention and much con- 
fusion for reasons too obvious to enumerate. 
It is one of the evils, perhaps not the small- 
est, of democratical governments that they 
must feel before they will see or act under 
this view of matters, and not doubting but 
you have heard the sentiments of many re- 
spectable characters since the date of your 
letter of the 20th of January on this sub- 
ject, and perhaps since the business has been 
moved in Congress of the propriety or im- 
propriety of my attendance, let me pray 
you, my dear Sir, to give me confidentially 
the public opinion and expectation as far 
as it has come to your knowledge of what 
it is supposed, I will or ought to do on this 


The letter of March 3 1 to Madison is of 
unusual interest, because therein he spoke 
directly of the monarchical possibility at 
which he merely hinted in the letters to 
Humphreys: "I think the reasons in favor 
have the preponderancy over those against 
it. It is idle in my opinion to suppose that 
the Sovereign can be insensible to the inade- 
quacy of the powers under which they act, 
and that, seeing it, they should not recom- 
mend a revision of the federal system; 
especially when it is considered by many as 
the only constitutional mode by which the 
defects can be remedied. Had Congress pro- 
ceeded to a delineation of the powers, it 
might have sounded an alarm; but, as the 
case is, I do not conceive that it will have 
that effect. . . . 

"I am fully of opinion that those, who 
lean to a monarchical government, have 
either not consulted the public mind, or that 
they live in a region, which (the levelling 
principles in which they were bred being 
entirely eradicated) is much more produc- 
tive of monarchical ideas, than are to be 
found in the southern States, where, from 
the habitual distinctions which have always 
existed among the people, one would have 
expected the first generation and the most 
rapid growth of them. I am also clear, that, 
even admitting the utility, nay, necessity of 
the form, yet that the period is not arrived 
for adopting the change without shaking 
the peace of this country to its foundation. 
That a thorough reform of the present sys- 
tem is indispensable, none, who have capaci- 
ties to judge, will deny; and with hand 
[and heart] I hope the business will be 
essayed in a full convention. 

"After which, if more powers and more 
decision is not found in the existing form, 
if it still wants energy and that secrecy and 

despatch (either from the nonattendance or 
the local views of its members), which is 
characteristic of good government, and if 
it shall be found (the contrary of which, 
however, I have always been more afraid of 
than of the abuse of them), that Congress 
will, upon all proper occasions, exert the 
powers which are given, with a firm and 
steady hand, instead of frittering them back 
to the States, where the members, in place 
of viewing themselves in their national 
character, are too apt to be looking, — I say, 
after this essay is made, if the system proves 
inefficient, conviction of the necessity of a 
change will be disseminated among all 
classes of the people. Then, and not till 
then, in my opinion, can it be attempted 
without involving all the evils of civil 

"I confess, however, that my opinion of 
public virtue, is so far changed, that I have 
my doubts whether any system, without the 
means of coercion in the sovereign, will en- 
force due obedience to the ordinances of a 
general government; without which every 
thing else fails. Laws or ordinances unob- 
served, or partially attended to, had better 
never have been made; because the first is a 
mere nihil, and the second is productive of 
much jealousy and discontent. But what 
kind of coercion, you may ask. This indeed 
will require thought, though the non-com- 
pliance of the States with the late requisi- 
tion is an evidence of the necessity." 

Of interest in the light of the proceedings 
of the Federal Convention, in this insistence 
on the power of coercion in the central gov- 
ernment, though there is no indication that 
he had in mind at this time at least the 
eventual solution of direct action of the 
federal government upon the people. It is 
interesting, too, to contrast the above state- 
ment with his indignant rejection of 
Nicola's suggestion of kingship in 1782. 


These and other letters produced replies 
that in general urged his attendance. Knox 
had no doubts, and was almost prophetic in 
his reply: "I imagine that your own satis- 
faction, or chagrin, and that of your friends, 
will depend entirely on the result of the 
convention. For I take it for granted, that, 
however reluctantly you may acquiesce, you 
will be constrained to accept of the presi- 
dent's chair. Hence the proceedings of the 
convention will more immediately be ap- 
propriated to you than to any other person. 
Were the convention to propose only amend- 
ments and patchwork to the present defec- 
tive confederation, your reputation would 
in a degree suffer. But, were an energetic 
and judicious system to be proposed with 
your signature, it would be a circumstance 
highly honorable to your fame, in the judg- 
ment of the present and future ages; and 
doubly entitle you to the glorious republican 
epithet, The Father of your Country. 

"But, the men generally chosen being of 
the first information, great reliance may 
be placed on the wisdom and vigor of their 
counsels and judgment, and therefore the 
balance of my opinion preponderates greatly 
in favor of your attendance. I am per- 
suaded, that your name has had already great 
influence to induce the States to come into 
the measure, that you attendance will be 
grateful, that your presence would confer 
on the assembly a national complexion, and 
that it would more than any other circum- 
stance induce a compliance with the propo- 
sitions of the convention." 

Humphreys personally thought Washing- 
ton's attendance unwise. He wrote his Gen- 
eral, January 20, 1787: "The personal char- 
acter of yourself and some other Gentlemen 
would have a weight on individuals — but 
on democratic Assemblies & the bulk of the 
People, your opinions & your eloquence 
would be 'triffles light as air.' After the 
abominable neglects, with which your 
recommendations of the Army have been 
treated; he must indeed have faith to re- 
move mountains, who can believe in the 
good dispositions of the Country." How- 
ever, he later acknowledged that Gouver- 
neur Morris and others had wished him to 
use whatever influence he might have to 
induce Washington to attend. "I could not 
have promised this without counteracting 
my own judgment. I will not, however, 
hesitate to say, that I do not conceive your 
attendance can hazard such personal ill con- 
sequences, as were to be apprehended before 
the proposed meeting had been legitimated 
by the sanction of Congress." 


In the end Washington decided to attend 
the Convention, writing Governor Randolph 
March 28: "I apprehend, too much cause 
to arraign my conduct with inconsistency in 
again appearing on a public theatre, after 
a public declaration to the contrary, and 
because it will, I fear, have a tendency to 
sweep me back into the tide of public af- 
fairs, when retirement and ease is so essen- 
tially necessary for and is so much desired 
by me. However, as my friends, with a 
degree of solicitude which is unusual, seem 
to wish for my attendance on this occasion, 
I have come to a resolution to go, if my 
health will permit." 

The spirit with which he looked forward 
to the Convention was not very hopeful. 
To Madison he wrote in the letter above 
quoted, March 3 1 : "It gives me great pleas- 
ure to hear, that there is a probability of a 
full representation of the States in conven- 
tion; but if the delegates come to it under 
fetters, the salutary ends proposed will in 
mv opinion be greatly embarrassed and re- 
tarded, if not altogether defeated. I am 
desirous of knowing how this matter is, as 
my wish is that the convention may adopt 
no temporizing expedients, but probe the 


Honor to George Washington 

defects of the constitution to the bottom, 
and provide a radical cure, whether they 
are agreed to or not. A conduct of this 
kind will stamp wisdom and dignity on their 
proceedings, and hold up a light which 
sooner or later will have its influence." 

To Randolph he sounded the more per- 
sonal note, April 9: "I very much fear that 
all the States will not appear in convention, 
and that some of them will come fettered 
so as to impede rather than accelerate the 
great object of their convening; which, 

under the peculiar circumstances of my case, 
would place me in a more disagreeable situa- 
tion than any other member would stand in. 
As I have yielded, however, to what ap- 
peared to be the earnest wishes of my 
friends, I will hope for the best." 

Part II 
Results of the Convention 


(MAY, 1787) 

Washington set out for the Convention 
on May 9; on the 13 th was met at Chester 
by Generals Knox, Mifflin, and Varnum, 
Humphreys, Major Jackson, who was to 
become secretary of the Convention, and 
other former army officers. "At Gray's 
Ferry the city light horse . . . met me, and 
escorted me in by the artillery officers who 
stood arranged and saluted as I passed. . . . 
kindly pressed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert 
Morris to lodge with them, I did so. . . . 
Waited on the President, Doctr. Franklin, 
as soon as I got to Town. On my arrival, 
the Bells were chimed." For lack of a 
quorum the Convention did not meet un- 
til May 2 5, "when by a unanimous vote I 
was called up to the chair as President." 
Meetings were secret; Washington respected 
this so thoroughly that "nothing being suf- 
fered to transpire, no minutes of the pro- 
ceedings has been, or will be inserted in this 
diary." There is an anecdote that when one 
member happened to drop his copy of the 
proceedings, luckily found by another mem- 
ber and given to the president, Washing- 
ton's criticism was so scathing that the 
papers were never reclaimed. 

VENTION (1787) 

Since Washington followed his usual habit 
of making no use of his diary as a record 
of consultations or arguments, purposely 
confining the entries in this crisis to very 
brief notes on social engagements, we are 
dependent upon fellow members for knowl- 
edge of the participation and personal in- 
fluence of the president of the Convention. 
So far as known he made but one speech in 
the Convention; Madison's notes give this 
as a plea, in the final hours of the meeting, 
in favor of a more liberal ratio of repre- 
sentation. The eloquent brief speech with 
which he is accredited during the early dark 
days is apocryphal. It appears first in 
Gouverneur Morris's funeral oration on 
Washington, and must be classed with the 
address on independence put in Adams's 
mouth by Webster, and Lincoln's tariff 
speech as imagined by Robert Ingersoll. His 

only known votes were: (1) in favor of a 
single executive; (2) against the election of 
the executive by Congress; (3) in favor of 
an export tax requiring a two-thirds vote; 
(4) ratification by seven states; (5) and 
against overruling the veto by a two-thirds 
vote. He was originally opposed to restrict- 
ing the introduction of money bills to the 
lower house, but receded from that stand 
for the sake of harmony, not deeming it 
important. Luther Martin declared that in 
committee of the whole he advocated a 
strong centralized government, which is very 

In the pamphlet on his earlier politics an 
attempt has been made in the quotations 
from his letters to give his thoughts on the 
proper form of government; and a study of 
these and other utterances in the present 
article will show points that throw light on 
his probable attitude toward the various 
problems in the Convention. Certain points 
deserve special attention. John Corbin, in 
a recent study of Washington's constitu- 
tional influence, points out that the basic 
principle of his polity was republican and 
not democratic: that is, government of the 
people, for the people, but by the consti- 
tuted authorities. Washington believed in 
representative government. When his 
nephew Bushrod informed him of the forma- 
tion of a local patriotic society to keep a 
check on its legislator, a sort of early local 
substitute for the initiative and referendum, 
Washington replied, September 30, 1786: 
"I am no friend to institutions, except in 
local matters, which are wholly or in a great 
measure confined to the county of the dele- 
gates. To me it appears much wiser and 
more politic to choose able and honest repre- 
sentatives, and leave them, in all national 
questions to determine from the evidence 
of reason, and the facts which shall be 
adduced, when internal and external infor- 
mation is given to them in a collective state. 
What certainty is there that societies in a 
corner or remote part of a State can possess 
that knowledge which is necessary for them 
to decide on many important questions 
which may come before an Assembly? . . . 
What figure then must a delegate make, who 
comes there with his hands tied, and his 
judgment forestalled?" 



Washington believed in the absolute 
necessity of the federal government possess- 
ing coercive power, although he was uncer- 
tain of the form that power should take. 
This appears in his letter to Madison, March 
31, 1786, previously quoted; and in various 
other places, such as a letter to Jay, August 
1, 1786. On May 20 and again on Novem- 
ber 5, 1785, Noah Webster was a visitor at 
Mount Vernon and remained over night in 
both cases. In this year Webster published 
his Plan for the Union of the American 
States which, though it probably made little 
impression at the time, contains thoughts on 
the need of coercion and direct application 
of the federal government — ideas upon 
which he and Washington undoubtedly ex- 
changed opinions. Knox wrote Washington, 
January 4, 1787, offering some suggestions 
on government, including a separation of 
powers and also: "All national objects, to be 
designed and executed by the general gov- 
ernment, without any reference to the local 
governments." Washington replied, Febru- 
ary 3 : "The system on which you seem dis- 
posed to build a national government, is 
certainly ... in every point of view more 
desirable than the present, which . . . hav- 
ing the legislative, executive, and judiciary 
branches concentred, is exceptionable." This 
shows not only that he had placed before 
him ideas from which the Law-of-the-Land 
principle might have originated, but this 
last quotation shows also his belief in the 
separation of powers. 

Washington believed in a bicameral Con- 
gress. In the letter to his nephew he com- 
mented upon the Shays movement in Massa- 
chusetts, declaring as some evidences of its 
evil: "Why, they have declared the senate 
useless, many other parts of the constitution 
unnecessary, salaries of public officers bur- 
thensome, &c." He believed in a federal 
court. As early as 1775 he was urging the 
necessity of establishing without loss of 
time proper courts for the decision of prop- 
erty rights and the legality of seizures. As 
a result of this and other promptings, Con- 
gress first established a prize committee and 
later a fixed Court of Appeals in Cases of 
Capture, which Dr. Jameson considers "may 
be justly regarded not simply as the pred- 

Washington and the Constitution 


ecessor, but as one of the origins of the 
Supreme Court of the United States." 

The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 
was nearer a model of the Federal Constitu- 
tion than any other of the early constitu- 
tional documents. John Adams, who was 
the chief author of it, wrote a Defence of 
the Constitutions of the Government of the 
United States, which was originally pub- 
lished in London, but the first part of which 
was available in Philadelphia during the 
Federal Convention. Washington possessed 
a copy of it but we do not know from his 
accounts whether or not it came into his 
hands during the Convention. 


We know that he was acquainted with 
the Virginia Plan in advance. Madison 
wrote, April 16: "Having been lately led to 
resolve the subject which is to undergo the 
discussion of the Convention, and formed 
some outlines of a new system, I take the 
liberty of submitting them without apology 
to your eye." Undoubtedly, too, he attended 
the preliminary meetings of the Virginia 
delegation which discussed the plan. 

Of his great influence in the Convention 
we get a few sidelights from other corre- 
spondence, especially on the subject of the 
presidency. Pierce Butler, who was a dele- 
gate, wrote, May 5, 1788: "Nor, Entre 
Nous, do I believe they would have been so 
great had not many of the members cast 
their eyes towards General Washington as 
President; and shaped their Ideas of the 
Powers to be given to a President by their 
opinions of his Virtue. So that the Man, 
who by his Patriotism and Virtue, Con- 
tributed largely to the Emancipation of his 
Country, may be the Innocent means of its 
being, when He is lay'd low, oppressed." 
This clearly indicates a belief in a presiden- 
tial life tenure; and Jefferson wrote, August 
12, 1788: "Another defect, the perpetual 
reeligibility of the same President, will prob- 
ably not be cured during the life of General 
Washington. His merit has blinded our 
countrymen to the danger of making so im- 
portant an office re-eligible. I presume there 
will not be a vote against him in the United 
States." An unknown writer, October 11, 
1787, probably addressing Jefferson, supports 
this view: "I may pronounce that it will be 
adopted. General Washington lives; and as 
he will be appointed President, jealousy on 
this head vanishes." 

Monroe wrote Jefferson, July 27, 1787, 
expressing a common opinion: "The con- 
vention is an expedient that will produce a 
decisive effect. It will either recover us 
from our present embarrassments or com- 
plete our ruin; for I do suspect that if what 
they recommend shod, be rejected this wod. 
be the case. But I trust that the presence of 
Genl. Washington will have great weight in 
the body itself so as to overawe and keep 
under the demon of party, & that the sig- 
nature of his name to whatever act shall be 

the result of their deliberations will secure 
its passage thro' the union." 



Through our present knowledge of the 
proceedings we can read between the lines of 
Washington's letters during the Convention. 
Thus he undoubtedly had the compromises 
in mind when he wrote Stuart, July 1: "I 
have had no wish more ardent, through the 
whole process of this business, than that of 
knowing what kind of government is best 
calculated for us to live under. No doubt 
there will be a diversity of sentiments on 
this important subject; and, to inform the 
judgment, it is necessary to hear all argu- 
ments that can be advanced. To please all 
is impossible, and to attempt it would be 
vain. The only way, therefore, is, under ail 
the views in which it can be placed, and 
with a due consideration to circumstances, 
habits, &c, &c, to form such a govern- 
ment as will bear the scrutinizing eye of 
criticism, and trust it to the good sense and 
patriotism of the people to carry it into 

Hamilton, who was a New York delegate, 
had at this time withdrawn temporarily, be- 
cause his colleagues had left in protest. 
When Washington wrote him, July 10, the 
Convention was in a critical state, having 
then under special consideration the proposi- 
tion of the grand committee in favor of an 
equal state vote in the Senate, with the 
House to control the origin of money bills. 
This, which was being debated, seemed to 
involve a setback for the big states and for 
the advocates of a strong central govern- 
ment, men like King, Hamilton, Wilson, 
Madison, and Washington. The great Law- 
of-the-Land solution, by which the federal 
government was to operate directly on the 
people, had not yet been wrought out. 
Washington wrote: "When I refer you to 
the state of the counsels, which prevailed at 
the period you left this city, and add that 
they are now if possible in a worse train 
than ever, you will find but little ground on 
which the hope of a good establishment can 
be formed. In a word, I almost despair of 
seeing a favorable issue to the proceedings 
of our convention, and do therefore repent 
having had any agency in the business. The 
men who oppose a strong and energetic gov- 
ernment, are in my opinion narrow-minded 
politicians, or are under the influence of 
local views. The apprehension expressed by 
them, that the people will not accede to the 
form proposed, is the ostensible, not the real 
cause of opposition. But, admitting that the 
present sentiment is as they prognosticate, 
the proper question ought nevertheless to be, 
Is it, or is it not, the best form that such 
a country as this can adopt? If it be the 
best, recommend it, and it will assuredly 
obtain, maugre opposition. I am sorry vou 
went away. I wish you were back. The 
crisis is equally important and alarming, and 

no opposition, under such circumstances, 
should discourage exertions till the signature 
is offered." 

(SEPTEMBER, 1787) 

These doubts vanished with the successful 
accomplishment of the task. As Alexander 
wrote to Jefferson in November: "I never 
saw him so keen for anything in my life 
as he is for the adoption of the new scheme 
of government." Happy he was in being 
able to agree with Franklin that the device 
on the back of the president's chair was a 
rising and not a setting sun. Washington's 
Diary records the final session: "Monday 
[Sept.] 17th. Met in Convention, when 
the Constitution received the unanimous as- 
sent of 1 1 States and Colo. Hamilton's from 
New York (the only delegate from thence 
in Convention), and was subscribed to by 
every Member present except Govr. Ran- 
dolph and Colo. Mason from Virginia, and 
Mr. Gerry from Massachusetts. 

"The business being thus closed, the 
Members adjourned to the City Tavern, 
dined together and took a cordial leave of 
each other; after which I returned to my 
lodgings, did some business with, and re- 
ceived the papers from the Secretary of the 
Convention, and retired to meditate on the 
momentous w[or]k which had been exe- 
cuted, after not less than five, for a large 
part of the time Six, and sometimes 7 hours 
sitting every day, [except] Sundays and the 
ten days adjournment to give a comee. op- 
portunity and time to arrange the business, 
for more than four months." 




Washington took no public part in the 
agitation for ratification, but from Mount 
Vernon there proceeded a stream of private 
support and advice that filtered through 
various channels to public information. 
The mere knowledge that this venerated 
character had presided over the Convention 
and signed the drafted Constitution was one 
of the most powerful reasons in public 
opinion why it was worthy of acceptance. 
He was provoked because some "hasty and 
indigested sentiments" in a letter from him 
to Charles Carter got into the newspapers 
in a distorted form, even though Madison 
thought that on the whole "it may have 
been of service, notwithstanding the scan- 
dalous misinterpretations of it which have 
been attempted." 

Never before, not even during the pre- 
revolutionary excitement, had there been so 
extensive and virulent use of newsletters and 
pamphlets. Washington's opinions, even 
rumors of them, were too good copy to be 
passed over even at his desire. Hamilton 
in some conjectures about the prospects of 
ratification wrote soon after the Convention 
adjourned: "The new Constitution has in 
favour of its success these circumstances — a 


Honor to George Washington 

very great weight of influence of the persons 
who framed it, particularly in the universal 
popularity of General Washington." 

This was a valuable factor, but actual 
expressions from the mouth or pen of the 
great hero would be of still greater value; 
so much so that after ratification had been 
secured Washington wrote: "I did not in- 
cline to appear as a partisan in the interest- 
ing subject, that has agitated the public 
mind since the date of my last letter to you. 
For it was my sincere wish, that the consti- 
tution, which had been submitted to the 
people, might, after a fair and dispassionate 
investigation, stand or fall according to its 
merits or demerits. Besides, I found from 
disagreeable experience, that almost all the 
sentiments extracted from me in answer to 
private letters, or communicated orally, by 
some means or another found their way into 
the public gazettes, as well as some other 
sentiments ascribed to me, which never had 
an existence in my imagination.'' 

FRANKLIN (1787) 

Even the objectors considered it necessary 
to explain away the fact that Washington 
and Franklin had endorsed the constitutional 
plan. Thus an "Officer in the Late Conti- 
nental Army," in a newsletter, November 3, 
1787, wrote: "The great names of Washing- 
ton and Franklin have been taken in vain 
and shockingly prostituted to effect the most 
infamous purposes. What! because our au- 
gust chieftain has subscribed his name in his 
capacity of president of the convention . . . 
will any one infer from this that it has met 
with . . . [his] entire approbation, and that 
. . . [he considers] it as a masterpiece of 
human wisdom? I am apt to think the 
contrary, as I have good reason to ground 
my opinion on." 

"Centinel," who was probably Samuel 
Bryan, explained at greater length: "I would 
be very far from insinuating that the two 
illustrious personages alluded to, have not 
the welfare of their country at heart; but 
that the unsuspecting goodness and zeal of 
the one has been imposed upon, in a subject 
of which he must be necessarily inexperi- 
enced, from his other arduous engagements; 
and that the weakness and indecision attend- 
ant on old age, has been practiced on the 
other. ... Is it derogating from the char- 
acter of the illustrious and highly revered 
Washington, to suppose him fallible on a 
subject that must be in a great measure 
novel to him? As a patriotic hero, he stands 
unequalled in the annals of time, ... In 
despair they are weakly endeavoring to 
screen their criminality by interposing the 
shield of the virtues of a Washington, in 
representing his concurrence in the proposed 
system of government as evidence of the 
purity of their intentions; but this impotent 
attempt to degrade the brightest ornament 
of his country to a base level with them- 
selves will be considered as an aggravation of 
their treason, who have too much discern- 

ment not to make a just discrimination be- 
tween the honest mistaken zeal of the patriot 
and the flagitious machinations of an am- 
bitious junto, and will resent the imposition 
that Machiavelian arts and consummate 
cunning have practiced upon our illustrious 


Washington did not consider the plan 
flawless but, as he wrote Mrs. Macauly- 
Graham, November 16, 1787: "I think it is 
much to be wondered at that any thing 
could be produced with such unanimity as 
the Constitution proposed." 

To Lafayette he wrote with more free- 
dom, February 7, 1788: "It appears to me, 
then, little short of a miracle, that the dele- 
gates from so many different States (which 
States you know are also different from each 
other) , in their manners, circumstances, and 
prejudices, should unite in forming a system 
of national government, so little liable to 
well-founded objections. . . . With regard 
to the two great points (the pivots upon 
which the whole machine must move) my 
creed is simply, 

"1st. That the general government is not 
invested with more powers, than are indis- 
pensably necessary to perform the functions 
of a good government; and consequently, 
that no objection ought to be made against 
the quantity of power delegated to it. 

"2ly. That these powers, (as the appoint- 
ment of all rulers will for ever arise from, 
and at short, stated intervals recur to, the 
free suffrage of the people,) are so dis- 
tributed among the legislative, executive, 
and judicial branches, into which the general 
government is arranged, that it can never 
be in danger of degenerating into a mon- 
archy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any 
other despotic or oppressive form, so long 
as there shall remain any virtue in the body 
of the people. 

"I would not be understood, my dear 
Marquis, to speak of consequences, which 
may be produced in the revolution of ages, 
by corruption of morals, profligacy of man- 
ners, and listlessness for the preservation of 
the natural and unalienable rights of man- 
kind, nor of the successful usurpations, that 
may be established at such an unpropitious 
juncture upon the ruins of liberty, however 
providently guarded and secured; as these 
are contingencies against which no human 
prudence can effectually provide. It will 
at least be a recommendation to the pro- 
posed constitution, that it is provided with 
more checks and barriers against the intro- 
duction of tyranny, and those of a nature 
less liable to be surmounted, than any gov- 
ernment hitherto instituted among mortals 
hath possessed. We are not to expect per- 
fection in this world; but mankind, in mod- 
ern times, have apparently made some 
progress in the science of government. 
Should that, which is now offered to the 

people of America, be found on experiment 
less perfect than it can be made, a consti- 
tutional door is left open for its ameliora- 

His idea of the probable opposition and 
the proper answer to the candid portion of 
it he gives in a letter to Knox, October, 
1787: "The constitution is now before the 
judgment-seat. It has, as was expected, its 
adversaries and supporters. Which will pre- 
ponderate is yet to be decided. The former 
more than probably will be most active, as 
the major part of them will, it is to be 
feared, be governed by sinister and self- 
important motives, to which every thing in 
their breasts must yield. The opposition 
from another class of them may perhaps, 
(if they should be men of reflection, candor, 
and information,) subside in the solution of 
the following simple questions. 1. Is the 
constitution, which is submitted by the con- 
vention, preferable to the government, (if 
it can be called one,) under which we now 
live? 2. Is it probable that more confidence 
would at the time be placed in another con- 
vention, provided the experiment should be 
tried, than was placed in the last one, and 
is it likely that a better agreement would 
take place therein? What would be the 
consequences if these should not happen, or 
even from the delay, which must inevitably 
follow such an experiment? Is there not a 
constitutional door open for alterations or 
amendments? and is it not likely that real 
defects will be as readily discovered after as 
before trial? and will not our successors be 
as ready to apply the remedy as ourselves, 
if occasion should require it? To think 
otherwise will, in my judgment, be ascribing 
more of the amor patriae, more wisdom and 
more virtue to ourselves, than I think we 


Later when the movement for a second 
convention was actively advanced, especially 
by Patrick Henry, Washington was quick to 
point out the weakness of the proposition in 
a letter to Randolph, January 8, 1788: "The 
various passions and motives, by which men 
are influenced, are concomitants of falli- 
bility, engrafted into our nature for the 
purposes of unerring wisdom; but, had I 
entertained a latent hope, (at the time you 
moved to have the constitution submitted to 
a second convention,) that a more perfect 
form would be agreed to, in a word, that 
any constitution would be adopted under 
the impressions and instructions of the mem- 
bers, the publications, which have taken 
place since, would have eradicated every 
form of it. How do the sentiments of the 
influential characters in this State, who are 
opposed to the constitution, and have fa- 
vored the public with their opinions, quad- 
rate with each other? Are they not at 
variance on some of the most important 
points? If the opponents in the same State 

Washington and the Constitution 


cannot agree in their principles, what pros- 
pect is there of a coalescence with the advo- 
cates of the measure, when the different 
views and jarring interests of so wide and 
extended an empire are to be brought for- 
ward or combated? To my judgment it is 
more clear than ever, that an attempt to 
amend the constitution, which is submitted, 
would be productive of more heat and 
greater confusion than can well be con- 

Being not at all fearful of the result of a 
thorough public discussion into the merits 
of the Plan, he wrote Humphreys, October 
10, 1787: "Much will depend however upon 
literary abilities, and the recommendation of 
it by good pens should be openly, I mean, 
publickly afforded in the Gazettes." This 
was after Congress had submitted the draft 
to the states, which action received the Gen- 
eral's comment in a letter to Madison, who 
was in Congress: "I am better pleased that 
the proceedings of the convention are sub- 
mitted from Congress by a unanimous vote, 
feeble as it is, than if they had appeared 
under strong marks of approbation without 
it. This apparent unanimity will have its 
effect. Not every one has opportunities to 
peep behind the curtain; and, as the multi- 
tude are often deceived by externals, the 
appearance of unanimity in that body on this 
occasion will be of great importance." 


He followed carefully the course of the 
public discussion, writing Stuart, who later 
was elected a delegate to the Virginia Con- 
vention, November 30: "I have seen no 
publication yet, that ought in my judgment 
to shake the proposed constitution in the 
mind of an impartial and candid public. In 
fine, I have hardly seen one, that is not 
addressed to the passions of the people, and 
obviously calculated to alarm their fears. 
Every attempt to amend the constitution at 
this time is in my opinion idle and vain. 
. . . That there are some writers, and others 
perhaps who may not have written, that 
wish to see this union divided into several 
confederacies, is pretty evident. 

"As an antidote to these opinions, and in 
order to investigate the ground of objections 
to the constitution which is submitted, the 
Federalist, under the signature of Publius, 
is written. . . . They are, I think I may 
venture to say, written by able men; and 
before they are finished will, or I am mis- 
taken, place matters in a true point of light. 
Although I am acquainted with the writers, 
who have a hand in this work, I am not at 
liberty to mention names, nor would I have 
it known, that they are sent by me to you 
for promulgation." 

Later, when the battle had been won, he 
expressed again, this time to Hamilton, the 
chief author, his opinion on the merits of 
The Federalist: "As the perusal of the politi- 
cal papers under the signature of Publius 
has afforded me great satisfaction, I shall 

certainly consider them as claiming a most 
distinguished place in my library. I have 
read every performance, which has been 
printed on one side and the other of the 
great question lately agitated (so far as I 
have been able to obtain them) ; and, with- 
out an unmeaning compliment, I will say, 
that I have seen no other so well calculated, 
in my judgment, to produce conviction on 
an unbiased mind as the production of your 
triumvirate. When the transient circum- 
stances and fugitive performances, which at- 
tended this crisis, shall have disappeared, that 
work will merit the notice of posterity, be- 
cause in it are candidly and ably discussed 
the principles of freedom and the topics of 
government, which will be always interest- 
ing to mankind, so long as they shall be 
connected in civil society." 

CATION (1788) 

Washington seems to have been optimistic 
during most of the ratification contest. 
Throughout the whole period of ratification 
his residence continued to be "a well re- 
sorted tavern," and with such men as Madi- 
son, the Lees, Robert and Gouverneur Mor- 
ris, Carrington, Dulany, Humphreys, Harri- 
son of Maryland, Powell of Pennsylvania, 
Jones of North Carolina, and many other 
visitors, there must have been lively discus- 
sions over the dinner table. These visitors 
not only carried home but later voiced the 
general's impressions. Henry Lee wrote, 
December 7, 1787: "Genl. Washington . . . 
continues firm as a rock." Washington him- 
self wrote Carter at this time, "My decided 
opinion of the matter is that there is no 
alternative between the adoption of it and 
anarchy"; and to Jay, March 3, 1788, "for 
myself I have never entertained much doubt 
of its adoption." This last statement was 
ifter the plan had successfully passed its 
first real test, in the Massachusetts Conven- 
tion. The only large state which had pre- 
viously ratified had been Pennsylvania, and 
there a species of dragoonage had checked 
the opposition. 

Washington did not approve of the Massa- 
chusetts "concomitants" — the proposed 
amendments; but nevertheless he wrote Lin- 
coln, February 28, 178 8: "The full and fair 
discussion, which you gave the subject in 
your convention, was attended with the hap- 
piest consequences. It afforded complete in- 
formation to all those, who went thither 
with dispositions to be informed, and at the 
same time gave an opportunitv to confute 
and point out the fallacy of those specious 
arguments, which were offered in opposition 
to the proposed government. Nor is this 
all. The conciliating behavior of the mi- 
nority will strike a damp on the hopes, which 
opponents in other States might otherwise 
have formed from the smallness of the ma- 
jority, and must be greatly influential in 
obtaining a favorable determination in those 
States, which have not yet decided upon it." 


The ratification by Massachusetts was the 
sixth. The New Hampshire convention 
convened but adjourned. Though this ac- 
tion was really a measure to prevent rejec- 
tion, since a majority of the convention were 
instructed against acceptance, it alarmed 
Washington. He wrote Knox, March 30: 
"The conduct of the State of New Hamp- 
shire has baffled all calculation, and has come 
extremely malapropos for a favorable de- 
cision on the proposed constitution in this 
State; for, be the real cause of the late ad- 
journment what it may, the anti-federal 
party with us do not scruple to pronounce, 
that it was done to await the issue of this 
convention before it would decide, and add, 
that, if this State should reject it, all those 
who are to follow will do the same, and 
consequently that it cannot obtain, as there 
will be only eight States in favor of the 

When later the Maryland convention met 
he warned Thomas Johnson: "I take the 
liberty of expressing a single sentiment on 
the occasion. It is, that an adjournment, if 
attempted, of your convention, to a later 
period than the decision of the question in 
this State, will be tantamount to the rejec- 
tion of the constitution. I have good rea- 
sons for this opinion, and am told it is the 
blow which the leading characters of the 
opposition in the next State [to meet in 
convention] have meditated, if it shall be 
found that a direct attack is not likely to 
succeed in yours. If this be true it cannot 
be too much deprecated and guarded against. 
The postponement in New Hampshire, (al- 
though it made no reference to the con- 
vention of this State, but proceeded alto- 
gether from the local circumstances of its 
own,) is ascribed by the opposition here to 
complaisance towards Virginia, and great 
use is made of it. An event similar to this 
in Maryland would have the worst tendency 
imaginable; for indecision there would cer- 
tainly have considerable influence upon 
South Carolina, the only other State, which 
is to precede Virginia, and submits the ques- 
tion almost wholly to the determination of 
the latter. The pride of the State is already 
touched upon this string, and will be raised 
much higher if there is fresh cause." 




Success or failure would turn probably 
on the action of Virginia, where the oppo- 
sition was led by the Lees, Patrick Henry, 
Mason, Grayson, and Harrison. Washing- 
ton wrote James Wilson, April 4, "It is 
impossible to say, with any degree of cer- 
tainty, what will be the determination of 
the convention in this State upon the pro- 
posed plan of government." When the Vir- 
ginia Convention met, eight states had ac- 
ceded; if that state ratified, the Constitution 
could go into operation. To Washington's 


Honor to George Washington 

Federalistic mind there could be no question 
of the duty of the Convention. He wrote 
Madison, who, with Randolph and Marshall, 
was to be a leading proponent in the Con- 
vention: "The decision of Maryland and 
South Carolina by so large majorities, and 
the almost certain adoption of the pro- 
posed constitution by New Hampshire, will 
make all, except desperate men, look before 
they leap into the dark consequences of re- 
jection. The ratification by eight States 
without a negative, by three of them unani- 
mously, by six against one in another, by 
three to one in another, by two to one in 
two more, and by all the weight of abilities 
and property in the other, is enough, one 
would think, to produce a cessation of op- 
position. I do not mean, that this alone is 
sufficient to produce conviction in the mind, 
but I think it ought to produce some change 
in the conduct of any man, who distrusted 
his infallibility." 

The effects of rejection must also be con- 
sidered, as he had written his nephew in the 
previous November: "Let the opponents of 
the proposed constitution in this State be 
asked, and it is a question they certainly 
ought to have asked themselves, what line of 
conduct they would advise to adopt, if nine 
other States, of which I think there is little 
doubt, should accede to the constitution. 
Would they recommend, that it should 
stand single? Will they connect it with 
Rhode Island? Or even with two others 
checkerwise, and remain with them, as out- 
casts from the society, to shift for them- 
selves? Or will they return to their de- 
pendence on Great Britain? Or, lastly, have 
the mortification to come in when they will 
be allowed no credit for doing so?" 


Maryland had been the seventh state to 
ratify. The procession at Baltimore in cele- 
bration included a miniature ship fifteen feet 
long, fully rigged. Later, June 9, this was 
navigated down the Chesapeake and up the 
Potomac to Mount Vernon by Capt. Joshua 
Barney and presented to Washington. On 
July 24 it sank in a gale; but the event 
could no longer be taken as an omen, for 
by that time South Carolina, New Hamp- 
shire, and Virginia had ratified. Even if, 
as then seemed likely, rejection by New 
York should separate New England from 
the rest of the states, that difficulty probably 
would not prevent the new government go- 
ing into operation. 

The Virginia Convention met on June 
2, 1788. Washington followed with great 
interest the reports of the proceedings by 
which Madison and others kept him in- 
formed. By a small majority ratification 
was accomplished. Alexandria celebrated 
with a dinner, June 28. Washington wrote 
C. C. Pinckney the same day: "Thus the 
citizens of Alexandria, when convened, con- 
stituted the first public company in America, 

which had the pleasure of pouring libation 
to the prosperity of the ten States, that had 
actually adopted the general government. 
The day itself is memorable for more reasons 
than one. It was recollected, that this day 
is the anniversary of the battles of Sullivan's 
Island and Monmouth. I have just returned 
from assisting at the entertainment, and 
mention these details, unimportant as they 
are in themselves, the rather because I think 
we may rationally indulge the pleasing hope, 
that the Union will now be established upon 
a durable basis, and that Providence seeems 
still disposed to favor the members of it 
with unequalled opportunities for political 

STATES (1788) 

As to prospects in North Carolina, New 
York, and Rhode Island, he continued in the 
letter to Pinckney: "From the local situation, 
as well as the other circumstances of North 
Carolina, I should be truly astonished if that 
State should withdraw itself from the 
Union. On the contrary, I flatter myself 
with a confident expectation, that more 
salutary counsels will certainly prevail. At 
present there is more doubt how the question 
will be immediately disposed of in New 
York; for it seems to be understood, that 
there is a majority in the convention op- 
posed to the adoption of the new federal 
system. Yet it is hardly to be supposed, 
(or rather in my judgment it is irrational to 
suppose,) they will reject a government, 
which, from an unorganized embryo ready to 
be stifled with a breath, has now in the ma- 
turity of its birth assumed a confirmed bodily 
existence. Or, to drop the metaphor, the 
point in debate has at least shifted its 
ground from policy to expediency. The de- 
cision of ten States cannot be without its 
operation. Perhaps the wisest way in this 
crisis will be not to attempt to accept or 
reject, but to adjourn until the people in 
some parts of the State can consider the 
magnitude of the question, and of the con- 
sequences involved in it, more coolly and 
deliberately. After New York shall have 
acted, then only one little State will remain. 
Suffice it to say, it is universally believed, 
that the scales are ready to drop from the 
eyes, and the infatuation to be removed from 
the heart, of Rhode Island. May this be the 
case before that inconsiderate people shall 
have filled up the measure of iniquity, be- 
fore it shall be too late." 


After New York ratified he expressed his 
thankfulness and praise with characteristic 
gallantry to Mrs. Stockton, August 31: "I 
can never trace the concatenation of causes, 
which led to these events, without acknowl- 
edging the mystery and admiring the good- 
ness of Providence. To that Superintending 
Power alone is our retraction from the brink 
of ruin to be attributed. A spirit of ac- 

comodation was happily infused into the 
leading characters of the Continent and the 
minds of men were gradually prepared, by 
disappointment, for the reception of a good 
government. Nor would I rob the fairer 
sex of their share in the glory of a revolu- 
tion so honorably to human nature, for, in- 
deed, I think you ladies are in the number 
of the best Patriots America can boast." 

Even before any of the States had rati- 
fied, Washington was being informed of the 
necessity, the inevitableness, of his being 
President. Among the characteristic pre- 
dictions was that of Hamilton: "If the gov- 
ernment be adopted, it is probable General 
Washington will be President of the United 
States — This will insure a wise choice of men 
to administer the government and a good 
administration." Humphreys wrote his 
former chief, September 28, 1787: "Your 
good Angel, I am persuaded will not desert 
you. What will tend, perhaps, more than 
any thing to the adoption of the new Sys- 
tem, will be an universal opinion of your be- 
ing elected President of the United States, 
and an expectation that you will accept it 
for a while." Gouverneur Morris a month 
later added his plea: "I have observed that 
your Name to the new Constitution has been 
of infinite Service. Indeed I am convinced 
that if you had not attended the Convention, 
and the same Paper had been handed out 
to the World, it would have met with a 
colder Reception. ... As it is, should the 
Idea prevail that you would not accept of 
the Presidency it would prove fatal in many 
Parts. . . . Your cool steady Temper is in- 
dispensibly necessary to give a firm and 
manly Tone to the new Government. . . . 
The Horses once trained may be managed 
by a Woman or a Child; not so when they 
first feel the Bit. . . . You therefore must 
I say must mount the Seat." 

At that time Washington seems to have 
ignored the matter, at least so far as his 
published correspondence shows; though 
Alexander Donald's letter to Jefferson in No- 
vember shows that the subject was also one 
of discussion by visitors: "As the eyes of all 
America are turned towards this truly 
Great and Good man, for the First President, 
I took the liberty of sounding him upon it, 
He appears to be greatly against going into 
Publick Life again, . . . but ... I am 
fully of opinion he may be induced to ap- 
pear once more on the Publick Stage of Life 
— I form my opinion from what passed be- 
tween us in a very long & serious conversa- 
tion, as well as from what I could gather 
from Mrs. Washington on the same subject." 
After Virginia had ratified, Monroe wrote 
Jefferson, July 12: "The conduct of Genl. 
Washington upon this occasion has no 
doubt been right and meritorious. . . . To 
forsake the honorable retreat to which he 
had retired & risque the reputation he had so 
deservedly acquir'd, manifested a zeal for the 
publick interest, that could after so many 
and illustrious services, & at this stage of his 
life, scarcely have been expected from him. 

Washington and the Constitution 


... Be assured his influence carried this 
Government." And, as he had so success- 
fully emerged from his retreat at the call of 
public duty, so this same call would not per- 
mit him to retire again. 


After ratification was accomplished, the 
burden of letters from all over the Union 
was that Washington must be President. 
Such men as Knox, Lincoln, Trumbull, Mor- 
ris, Hamilton, Thomas Johnson, Henry Lee, 
Madison, and Lafayette united in their plea. 
Hamilton's urgency and Henry Lee's are 
characteristic. It will be noticed that in 
them not only duty but the effect of re- 
fusal upon the general's own reputation are 
stressed. The former wrote: "I should be 
deeply pained, my dear Sir, if your scruples 
in regard to a certain station should be 
matured into a resolution to decline it; 
though I am neither surprised at their ex- 
istence, nor can I but agree in opinion that 
the caution you observe in deferring the 
ultimate determination is prudent. I have, 
however, reflected maturely on the subject, 
and have come to a conclusion (in which I 
feel no hesitation), that every public and 
personal consideration will demand from you 
an asquiescence in what will certainly be the 
unanimous wish of your country. 

"First; in a matter so essential to the well 
being of society as the prosperity of a newly 
instituted government, a citizen of so much 
consequence as yourself to its success has no 
option but to lend his services if called for. 
Permit me to say, it would be inglorious, in 
such a situation, not to hazard the glory, 
however great, which he might have pre- 
viously acquired. 

"Secondly; your signature to the pro- 
posed system pledges your judgment for its 
being such an one as upon the whole was 
worthy of the public approbation. If it 
should miscarry, (as men commonly decide 
from success or the want of it) the blame 
will in all probability be laid on the system 
itself. And the framers of it will have to 
encounter the disrepute of having brought 
about a revolution in government, without 
substituting any thing that was worthy of 
the effort; they pulled down one Utopia, it 
will be said, to build up another. This view 
of the subject, if I mistake not, my dear 
Sir, will suggest to your mind greater hazard 
to that fame, which must be and ought to 
be dear to you, in refusing your future aid 
to the system, than in affording it. I will 
only add, that in mv estimate of the matter, 
that aid is indispensable." 

Henry Lee declared, September 13: "So- 
licitous for our common happiness as a peo- 
ple, and convicted as I continue to be, that 
our peace and prosperity depends on the 
proper improvement of the present period, 
my anxiety is extreme, that the new govt, 
may have an auspicious beginning — To effect 
this & perpetuate a nation formed under 

your auspices, it is certain that again you 
will be called forth — " 



Washington's reluctance was not as- 
sumed. To Hamilton he wrote, August 28: 
"On the delicate subject with which you 
conclude your letter, I can say nothing, be- 
cause the event alluded to may never hap- 
pen, and because, in case it should occur, it 
would be a point of prudence to defer form- 
ing one's ultimate and irrevocable decision, 
so long as new data might be afforded for 
one to act with the greater wisdom and pro- 
priety. I would not wish to conceal my 
prevailing sentiment from you; for you 
know me well enough, my good Sir, to be 
persuaded, that I am not guilty of affecta- 
tion when I tell you, that it is my great and 
sole desire to live and die in peace and re- 
tirement on my own farm." 

As the pressure increased, he enlarged 
on his reasons to Henry Lee, September 22: 
"The principal topic of your letter is to me 
a point of great delicacy indeed, insomuch 
that I can scarcely without some impropriety 
touch upon it. In the first place, the event 
to which you allude may never happen; 
among other reasons, because, if the partial- 
ity of my fellow citizens conceive it to be a 
means by which the sinews of the new 
government would be strengthened, it will 
of consequence be obnoxious to those, who 
are in opposition to it, many of whom un- 
questionably will be placed among the 

"This consideration alone would super- 
sede the expediency of announcing any defi- 
nite and irrevocable resolution. You are 
among the small number of those, who know 
my invincible attachment to domestic life, 
and that my sincerest wish is to continue 
in the enjoyment of it solely until my final 
hour. But the world would be neither so 
well instructed, nor so candidly disposed, as 
to believe me uninfluenced by sinister mo- 
tives, in case any circumstance should 
render a deviation from the line of conduct 
I had prescribed to myself indispensable. 

"Should the contingency you suggest take 
place, and (for argument's sake alone let me 
say it) should my unfeigned reluctance to 
accept the office be overcome by a deference 
for the reasons and opinions of my friends, 
might I not, after the declarations I have 
made (and Heaven knows they were made 
in the sincerity of my heart), in the judg- 
ment of the impartial world and of pos- 
terity, be chargeable with levity and in- 
consistency, if not with rashness and am- 
bition? Nay farther, would there not even 
be some apparent foundation for the two 
former charges? Now justice to myself and 
tranquility of conscience require, that I 
should act a part, if not above imputation, at 
least capable of vindication. Nor will you 
conceive me to be too solicitous for reputa- 
tion. Though I prize as I ought the good 
opinion of my fellow citizens, yet, if I 

know myself, I would not seek or retain 
popularity at the expense of one social duty 
or moral virtue. 

"While doing what my conscience in- 
formed me was right, as it respected my 
God, my country, and myself, I could de- 
spise all the party clamor and unjust censure, 
which must be expected from some, whose 
personal enmity might be occasioned by their 
hostility to the government. I am conscious, 
that I fear alone to give any real occasion 
for obloquy, and that I do not dread to meet 
with unmerited reproach. And certain I 
am, whensoever I shall be convinced the 
good of my country requires my reputation 
to be put in risk, regard for my own fame 
will not come in competition with an ob- 
ject of so much magnitude. If I declined 
the task, it would lie upon quite another 
principle. Notwithstanding my advanced 
season of life, my increasing fondness for 
agricultural amusements, and my growing 
love of retirement, augment and confirm my 
decided predilection for the character of a 
private citizen, yet it would be no one of 
these motives, nor the hazard to which my 
former reputation might be exposed, nor the 
terror of encountering new fatigues and 
troubles, that would deter me from an ac- 
ceptance; but a belief, that some other per- 
son, who had less pretence and less inclina- 
tion to be excused, could execute all the 
duties full as satisfactorily as myself." 

To Hamilton he acknowledged, October 
3, that: "I will not suppress the acknowledg- 
ment, my dear Sir, that I have always felt a 
kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as 
I have been taught to expect I might, and 
perhaps must, ere long, be called to make a 
decision. You will, I am well assured, be- 
lieve the assertion, (though I have little ex- 
pectation it would gain credit from those 
who are less acquainted with me,) that, if 
I should receive the appointment, and if I 
should be prevailed upon to accept it, the 
acceptance would be attended with more 
diffidence and reluctance than I ever experi- 
enced before in my life. It would be, how- 
ever, with a fixed and sole determination of 
lending whatever assistance might be in my 
power to promote the public weal, in hopes 
that at a convenient and early period my 
services might be dispensed with, and that 
I might be permitted once more to retire, to 
pass an unclouded evening after the stormy 
day of life, in the bosom of domestic tran- 

Duty won. Although not legally in- 
formed of his unanimous election until April 
14, 1789, when Charles Thomson, who had 
been Secretary of the Continental Congress 
throughout almost the whole of its life, 
reached Mount Vernon with the notification, 
it was a foregone conclusion long before. 
His preparation for the new dignitv included 
borrowing some money: "Under this state- 
ment, I am inclined to do what I never ex- 


Honor to George Washington 

pected to be driven to, that is, to borrow 
money on Interest. Five hundred pounds 
would enable me to discharge what I owe in 
Alexandria, &c, and to leave the State (if it 
shall not be in my power to remain at home 
in retirement) without doing this, would be 
exceedingly disagreeable to me." Also he 
had a foretaste of the bitter cup of politics, 
in finding it necessary to refuse applicants 
for offices while still awaiting his election. 
To one of these requests from Benjamin 
Harrison, destined to be the ancestor of two 
Presidents, and who had opposed ratification, 
he replied: "I will go to the chair under no 
pre-engagement of any kind or nature what- 
soever. But, when in it, I will, to the best 
of my judgment, discharge the duties of the 
office with that impartiality and zeal for the 
public good, which ought never to suffer 
connections of blood or friendship to inter- 
mingle so as to have the least sway on de- 

cisions of a public nature. I may err, not- 
withstanding my most strenuous efforts to 
execute the difficult trust with fidelity and 
unexceptionably; but my errors shall be of 
the head, not of the heart. For all recom- 
mendations and appointments, so far as they 
may depend upon or come from me, a due 
regard shall be had to the fitness of charac- 
ters, the pretensions of different candidates, 
and, so far as is proper, to political considera- 
tion. These shall be invariably my governing 


April 16, 1789, with feelings, as he wrote 
Knox, April 1, "not unlike those of a cul- 
prit, who is going to the place of his execu- 
tion," he left Mount Vernon for New York, 
the temporary capital. The journey was 

one long triumphal procession; but accord- 
ing to an entry in a diary which Irving 
used but which is now lost, he remarked, 
after describing the crossing to New York 
and the reception there: "The display . . . 
filled my mind with sensations as painful 
(considering the reverse of this scene, which 
may be the case after all my labor to do 
good) as they are pleasing." On April 30, 
on the balcony of the New York City Hall, 
where now a statue stands before the sub- 
treasury, at the acme of his popularity 
though not of his fame, he took the oath: 
"I will faithfully execute the Office of Presi- 
dent of the United States, and will to the 
best of my Ability, preserve, protect and 
defend the Constitution of the United 
States." And the multitude shouted, "Long 
live George Washington, President of the 
United States." 

Selected Authorities 

Birth of the Nation (Old South Leaflets, Jth 
Series.) Boston, 1887. 

Corbin, John — Unknown Washington; 
Biographic Origins of the Republic. New 
York, Scribner, 1930. 

Delaplaine, Edward S. — Life of Thomas 
Johnson. New York, Hitchcock, 1927. 
(Especially chs. xxv-xxvii.) 

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. — Debates in the 
Several State Conventions on the Adop- 
tion of the Federal Constitution. 2d ed. 
5 vols. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 18 36-59. 
(Especially Vols. I, II; debates in Massa- 
chusetts, New York, and Virginia.) 

Farrand, Max — Framing of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. New Haven, 
Yale University Press, 1913. 

Farrand, Max, ed. — Records of the Federal 
Convention of 1787. 3 vols. New 
Haven, Yale University Press, 1911. 

Federalist: a Collection of Essays written in 
Favour of the New Constitution. 2 vols. 
New York, 178 8. (Various later and 
specially edited eds.) 

Fiske, John — Critical Period of American 
History, 17 S3 -17 89. Boston, Houghton 
Mifflin, 188 8. 

Ford, Paul Leicester, ed. — Essays on the 
Constitution . . . published during its 
Discussion by the People, 1787-1788. 
Brooklyn, 1892. 

Ford, Paul Leicester, ed. — Pamphlets on 
the Constitution . . . published during 
its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788. 
Brooklyn, 1888. 

Harding, Samuel Bannister — Contest 
over the Ratification of the Federal Con- 
stitution in the State of Massachusetts. 
New York, Longmans Green, 1896. 

Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. — American 
History told by Contemporaries. Vol. III. 
New York, Macmillan, 1901. (Especi- 
ally pt. iv.) 

Hunt, Gaillard — Life of James Madison. 
New York, Doubleday Page, 1902. 
(Especially chs. x-xvii.) 

Jameson, J. Franklin — "Studies in the 
History of the Federal Convention of 
1787"; in American Historical Associa- 
tion, Report for 1902, Vol. I, p. 87. 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — Alexander Hamil- 
ton (American Statesmen, Library ed.). 
Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. (Especi- 
ally ch. iv.) 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — George Washington 
(American Statesmen, Library ed.). 2 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 
(Especially Vol. II, ch. i.) 

McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham — 
Confederation and the Constitution 

(American Nation, Vol. X). New York, 
Harper, 1905. 

Miner, Clarence Eugene — Ratification of 
the Federal Constitution by the State of 
Neiv York. New York, Columbia Uni- 
versity, 1921. 

Osborn, Lucretia Perry, ed. — Washing- 
ton speaks for Himself. New York, 
Scribner, 1927. (Especially chs. vii-viii.) 

Roosevelt, Theodore — Couverneur Mor- 
ris (American Statesmen, Library ed.). 
Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. (Especi- 
ally ch. vi.) 

Scott, James Brown — United States of 
America: a Study in International Or- 
ganization. New York, Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1920. (Especially chs. 

United States Department of State, 
Bureau of Rolls and Library, ed. — 
Documentary History of the Constitution 
of the United States. Vols. IV-V. Wash- 
ington, Department of State, 1905. (Let- 
ters relating to framing of Constitution; 
also Bibliography.) 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 18 89-93. (Especi- 
ally Vol. XI.) 


Pamphlet Number Eight 

Washington as President 

Biisfanell Hart 
Part I 
Washington's Domestic Policy (1789*1797) 

George Washington 

From the Edward Savage Portrait 


|HE colonial tradition of the rela- 
tion of the executive to the legis- 
lative branch was that of opposi- 
tion and friction; but the royal 
governors were always between two fires: 
the British government (which appointed 
governors for all the colonies except Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and the three proprie- 
tary colonies), and the colonial legislatures, 
which were frequently at odds. The whole 
trend of colonial effort for fifty years before 

the Revolution was to hedge the governor 
in as much as possible and to weaken his 
prestige. From the early charters to the 
outbreak of the Revolution there was a run- 
ning fight between the colonial assemblies 
and the colonial governors. 

Hence Washington had little to learn 
about executive government from the pre- 
revolutionary experience of the Americans. 
On the other hand, in all the colonies there 
was a system of legislative committees exer- 
cising or seizing upon executive power. 

Upon those committees the organization of 
the first revolutionary governments was 
based. The Continental Congress started 
with a system of standing committees. 
Later there was a postmaster general and 
also boards, such as those of war and treas- 
ury, with outside officials. Finally, just be- 
fore the Articles of Confederation became 
active, departments with single executive 
heads were provided for the management of 
foreign, finance, war, and marine affairs, 
but no secretary for marine was even ap- 
pointed. This system was not changed by 
the Articles of Confederation, which merely 
gave to Congress a general power to "ap- 
point such . . . committees and civil offi- 
cers as may be necessary for managing the 
general affairs of the United States under 
their direction." 

The basis of that government in 1789 
was modest. The total population was only 
four millions, of whom 700,000 were negro 
slaves. The arguments and influence of the 
leading statesmen, of whom Washington 
was the chief, brought about the adoption 
of the Federal Constitution. Up to the 
going into effect of that Constitution in 
1789 there had been no national system of 
taxation or of commerce or regulation of 
interstate affairs. 

The energies of the new nation were di- 
vided between two fields, military and 
financial. Most of the promising and active 
young men had gone into the military serv- 
ice and had left their plantations and their 
businesses behind them. When peace made 
efforts for private economic recuperation 
possible, public conditions under the feeble 
Confederation hampered recovery greatly. 
The colonies had enjoyed the protection and 
privileges of the British Acts of Trade, as 
well as been subjected to the annoyances; 
but the war had dislocated this normal trend 
of commerce, and as independent states the 
colonies were now, under the prevailing mer- 
cantile system, cut off from what had pre- 
viously been their main market. Such great 
questions as the settlement of the national 
debt, the provision of a national revenue, 
the regulation of interstate and foreign com- 
merce, had to be faced and settled after the 
Constitution went into effect. 



Honor to George Washington 


In this critical period the whole country 
turned to George Washington as the most 
sagacious, most experienced, and ablest man. 
His views on public questions and the 
methods of government which he favored, 
quickly became a part of the history of the 
United States. During the eight years of 
his presidency no serious national question 
arose in which Washington's convictions and 
decisions were not essential. He was the 
center of all the great legislation during his 
presidency; and he had the opportunity to 
lay down the principles of such vital ques- 
tions as public revenue, public debt, the 
civil and criminal law of the federation, the 
admission of new states, the treatment of 
the Indians, the system of taxation, the pro- 
tection of life and property. Though he 
vetoed but two bills as President, his in- 
fluence was felt on every important act of 
Congress. The first of the vetoes, in 1792, 
was of a bill for the apportionment of repre- 
sentatives, because not in harmony with the 
constitutional requirement. The second 
one, at the end of his administration, re- 
lated to the provision for cavalry in the 
military establishment. Neither bill was 
passed over the veto. 

As has been shown in the preceding 
pamphlet, Washington had at first strongly 
deprecated the idea that he should become 
the first President; but, as ever, he recog- 
nized the call of duty, and when forced to 
the realization that it was necessary that he 
should once more emerge from private life, 
he bent all his energies to his new task. His 
election was unanimous, and his journey 
from Mount Vernon to New York was a 
triumphal tour. 

The first inauguration of Washington, 
April 30, 1789, took place on the portico 
of the New York City Hall of that period. 
An Official eyewitness of this scene was Sena- 
tor Maclay, of Pennsylvania, who felt it to 
be his duty to criticise anything that seemed 
to him undemocratic. 

"The President advanced between the Sen- 
ate and Representatives, bowing to each. 
He was placed in the chair by the Vice- 
President; the Senate with their president on 
the right, the Speaker and the Representa- 
tives on his left. The Vice-President rose 
and addressed a short sentence to him. The 
import of it was that he should now take 
the oath of office as President. He seemed 
to have forgot half what he was to say, for 
he made a dead pause and stood for some 
time, to appearance, in a vacant mood. He 
finished with a formal bow, and the Presi- 
dent was conducted out of the middle win- 
dow into the gallery, and the oath was ad- 
ministered by the Chancellor. . . . 

"As the company returned into the Sen- 
ate chamber, the President took the chair 
and the Senators and Representatives their 
seats. He rose, and all arose also, and ad- 
dressed them. This great man was agitated 

and embarrassed more than ever he was by 
the leveled cannon or pointed musket. He 
trembled, and several times could scarce 
make out to read, though it must be sup- 
posed he had often read it before. . . . 
When he came to the words all the world, 
he made a flourish with his right hand, 
which left rather an ungainly impression. 
. . . He was dressed in deep brown, with 
metal buttons, with an eagle on them, white 
stockings, a bag, and sword." 


Washington was a grand gentleman. He 
had a large property; and though at times 
short for ready money, as was often the 
case with landed proprietors, he had a salary 
which was certainly the largest amount then 
paid to any man in America for personal 
services. First in New York and then in 
Philadelphia he lived in a handsome house 
(at his own expense) and held formal re- 
ceptions open to members of Congress and 
senators, to executive officials, to foreign 
representatives and to substantial citizens 
and accredited visitors from overseas. To 
be a guest at the state dinners was an event 
to remember and record, as did Senator 
Maclay as follows: 

"Senate adjourned early. At a little after 
four I called on Mr. Bassett, of the Delaware 
State. We went to the President's to din- 
ner. . . . The President and Mrs. Washing- 
ton sat opposite each other in the middle of 
the table; the two secretaries, one at each 
end. It was a great dinner, and the best of 
the kind I ever was at. The room, how- 
ever, was disagreeably warm. . . . 

"It was the most solemn dinner ever I 
sat at. Not a health drank; scarce a word 
said until the cloth was taken away. Then 
the President, filling a glass of wine, with 
great formality drank to the health of every 
individual by name round the table. Every- 
body imitated him, charged glasses, and such 
a buzz of 'health, sir,' and 'health, madam,' 
and 'thank you, sir,' and 'thank you, 
madam,' never had I heard before. Indeed, 
I had liked to have been thrown out in the 
hurry; but I got a little wine in my glass, 
and passed the ceremony. The ladies sat a 
good while, and the bottles passed about; 
but there was a dead silence almost. Mrs. 
Washington at last withdrew with the 

"I expected the men would now begin, 
but the same stillness remained. The Presi- 
dent told of a New England clergyman 
who had lost a hat and wig in passing a 
river called the Brunks. He smiled, and 
everybody else laughed. He now and then 
said a sentence or two on some common 
subject, and what he said was not amiss. 
. . . The President kept a fork in his hand, 
when the cloth was taken away, I thought 
for the purpose of picking nuts. He ate no 
nuts, however, but plaved with the fork, 
striking on the edge of the table with it. 

We did not sit long after the ladies retired. 
The President rose, went up-stairs to drink 
coffee; the company followed. I took my 
hat and came home." 


Looking back a hundred and forty years 
the process of putting the machinery of the 
federal government into action looks simple 
and easy. We have no verbatim debates 
of Congress; but the accounts below the 
surface of the proceedings in both houses 
of Congress show exceedingly lively discus- 
sions. Regular political parties did not de- 
velop till after 1793. The necessary ma- 
chinery of government was easily set in 
motion. Some of the states had two-house 
legislatures; and the general principles of 
parliamentary law and procedure were de- 
veloped in colonial times. No colony or 
state, however, ever had formed a legisla- 
ture of two about equally powerful houses. 
Deadlocks would have occurred in the new 
Federal Congress, but for the balance 
wheel — the President. 

One of the most efficient men in Congress, 
and at first a cordial supporter and friend 
of the President, was James Madison of Vir- 
ginia. Congress contained many men of 
experience. In a few months acts for the 
executive departments were passed and 
Washington began not only to require the 
written opinions of the principal officers, as 
permitted by the Constitution, but to hold 
meetings with them in cabinet, which was 
the origin of this extra-constitutional body. 
The executive post of most importance was 
the headship of the department of foreign 
affairs, which Washington filled with a great 
Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. Another Vir- 
ginian, Edmund Randolph, was appointed 
Attorney General. The important office of 
Secretary of the Treasury was filled by 
Alexander Hamilton, a young man, allied 
by marriage to the wealthy Schuyler family 
in New York, and a believer in a strong 
financial system. The War Department was 
under Henry Knox of Massachusetts, and 
the Post Office continued under Samuel 
Osgood of the same state. 

Washington's fortunes had suffered much 
from his eight years' absence as head of the 
national army. He accepted the salary of 
$25,000 a year voted by Congress, but ap- 
pears to have expended more than the 
amount in maintaining the expenditures in- 
cident to the office. Appointments to office 
included men from every section of the 
Union, with special pains to search out and 
bring into the public service men whose 
qualities he had learned while they were 
fellow members of the Continental Army. 
He was responsible for filling up the new 
Supreme Court, the first important tribunal 
ruling on the constitutionality of acts of 
the legislative body in the history of human 

Washington as President 



No political parties in the modern sense 
existed in the states during the Revolution- 
ary War. Hence there was no opportunity 
in the Continental Congress or the Congress 
of the Confederation to build up an oppo- 
sition to the body of adherents to the Revo- 
lution who were carrying on the war. 
Washington in his first administration was 
the only President of the United States who 
did not have behind him a political party 
extending through most of the Union. 

That inevitable division began to show 
itself in national affairs about 1793, when 
there was a deep split between those who 
wished the United States to take a strong 
part in favor of France and against Great 
Britain in the European war that then broke 
out, and a conservative party which included 
those who were not willing to go to war 
on behalf of Great Britain or to break with 
the French, who a few years earlier had made 
possible the success of the Revolution. Co- 
incident with this surface manifestation, and 
antedating it among the leaders, was the 
division over whether the Constitution 
should be interpreted along broad or re- 
stricted lines. 

Two champions appeared as the leading 
spirits in this party division. Thomas Jef- 
ferson of Virginia, Secretary of State in 
Washington's first Cabinet, was the most 
talented member in what speedily became 
the Republican Party, that is, republican 
in the sense of opposition to aristocracy and 
royalty. It was nearly forty years later 
that that party took up the name of Demo- 
crat. This was also the party of strict con- 
struction. The opposite great party 
chieftain was Alexander Hamilton, Secretary 
of the Treasury, recognized as representing 
what we should now call the financial and 
commercial interests of the country; and 
which advocated liberal construction 
through the doctrine of implied powers. 
Washington believed in both men. Never- 
theless Washington's mind naturally took 
the same side as Hamilton's on the great 
questions of giving the nation power over 
a sufficient revenue to carry on national af- 
fairs, and sufficient military and naval 
power at least to protect itself from in- 
vasion. The name adopted by this group 
was the Federalist Party, the main princi- 
ples of which were years later taken over 
by the Whig Party and subsequently by the 
Republican Party, founded in 18 54. Wash- 
ington strove hard to maintain a neutral 
attitude between the two early parties; but 
in the difficulties brought about by the 
European wars Washington definitely sided 
with the Federalists. The financial phase of 
Washington's administration is considered 
in a later pamphlet of this series. 


Nothing in Washington's whole life is a 
stronger evidence of his character and his 

abilities as a statesman than the serene judg- 
ment of men and affairs which he showed 
in the first political crisis. His reelection as 
President was an evidence of the confidence 
of the people; and he needed such confidence 
inasmuch as the crisis in foreign relations 
caused by the European war of 1793 tested 
his popularity and his statesmanship. The 
French revolutionary government and its 
diplomatic representative, Citizen Genet, ex- 
pected, if not an alliance, at least a strong 
preference for the French, particularly with 
regard to French commerce and French cap- 
tures of British ships by cruisers and pri- 
vateers. Genet was not simply a very high 
tempered diplomat; he was an apostle of a 
democratic type of government far more 
extreme and aggressive than any democracy 
ever known in the United States. He be- 
gan at once to found and to consult with 
the so-called democratic clubs formed in 
various parts of the Union on the model of 
the French Jacobins. President Washington 
found a hostile feeling in Philadelphia, al- 
though a remark of John Adams to the 
effect that there was some danger of per- 
sonal violence to the President is not borne 
out by the real conditions. Certainly noth- 
ing in Washington's own writings indicates 
that he was afraid of the American people 
in the streets of an American city. Wash- 
ington held steadily on his course and his 
friends and supporters chose John Adams, 
Vice-President and sharer in Washington's 
political fortunes, as President from 1797. 
Nevertheless the political ordeal was 
severe and but for the courage and stead- 
fastness of President Washington the federal 
government could not have been success- 
fully organized. It could not have lived 
through the excitement of the French Revo- 
lution. It could not have weathered the 
storm and maintained neutrality in the midst 
of the European War. Or rather it was 
the confidence of the majority of the voters 
in the United States that President Washing- 
ton was an upright, truthful, able, and 
courageous man that enabled the Republic 
to weather the storm. 

Jefferson has left an account of a Cabinet 
episode that brought out the passionate di- 
vision of opinion within the Cabinet and 
outside, and indicated his own growing 
opposition to Washington. 

"The President manifestly inclined to the 
appeal to the people. Knox, in a foolish, 
incoherent sort of a speech, introduced the 
pasquinade lately printed, called the funeral 
of George W-n, and James Wilson, 
King and Judge, &c, where the President 
was placed on a guillotine. The President 
was much inflamed; got into one of those 
passions when he cannot command himself; 
ran on much on the personal abuse which 
had been bestowed on him; defied any man 
on earth to produce one single act of his 
since he had been in the government, which 
was not done on the purest motives; that 

he had never repented but once the having 
slipped the moment of resigning his office, 
and that was every moment since; that by 
God he had rather be in his grave than in 
his present situation; that he had rather be 
on his farm than to be made Emperor of the 
world; and yet that they were charging him 
with wanting to be a King. That that 
rascal Freneau sent him three of his papers 
every day, as if he thought he would become 
the distributor of his papers; that he could 
see in this, nothing but an impudent design 
to insult him. He ended in this high tone. 
There was a pause. Some difficulty in re- 
suming our question; it was, however, after 
a little while, presented again, and he said 
there seemed to be no necessity for deciding 
it now; the propositions before agreed on 
might be put into a train of execution, and 
perhaps events would show whether the ap- 
peal would be necessary or not. He desired 
we would meet at my office the next day, 
to consider what should be done with the 
vessels armed in our ports by Mr. Genet, 
and their prizes." 


No statesman of his time had so deep an 
interest in the problem of the native Indian 
tribes as Washington. He had been a great 
figure in the relations of the settlers with 
the Indians for forty years. He had a name 
given by the Indians, "Conoctocarius" — 
destroyer of villages. He was in the thick 
of the frontier wars from 1754 to 1758. 
He had some Indians under his command in 
the Revolution. Washington had large per- 
sonal holdings of frontier lands which de- 
pended for their value on clearing them of 
Indian claims. Above all, Washington's 
unflagging interest in the West as the future 
home of immigrants from the existing east- 
ern states was bound up with the Indian 

The practice of colonial times, affecting 
the federal government, was to treat each 
tribe of Indians as an independent political 
power capable of making treaties and land 
cessions that could not be revoked. The 
new federal government, through the regu- 
lation of "common treaties" with the In- 
dian tribes, acclaimed itself the only gov- 
ernment that could negotiate boundary 
treaties with Indians. On the other hand, 
the federal government had a permanent 
armed force — though for a long time only 
a few hundred soldiers — which was the only 
military protection of the settlers, except 
their own trained militia. 


The western settlements in the states 
were troublesome and difficult to manage. 
Pennsylvania beyond the mountains had a 
crude, Indian fighting, frontier community, 
acknowledging the supremacy of the state 
of Pennsylvania — but not much interested 
in the government of the United States of 
America. Among the formal measures 
urged in Congress by Washington and Ham- 


Honor to George Washington 

ikon was a moderate tax on the manufac- 
ture of whiskey; and distilling was a western 

In protest an armed body in 1794 around 
Pittsburgh interrupted the collection of the 
tax. Washington looked upon this out- 
burst as a direct defiance of the government 
of the United States. Therefore he called 
upon the militia of neighboring states to 
suppress the insurrection, and at the ren- 
dezvous at Bedford, Pennsylvania, he gave 
orders to the 15,000 troops which marched 
into the disturbed region. 

This spirited action broke up the insur- 
rection — there was no fighting, though some 
men were prosecuted in the civil courts. 
Washington's own comment on the affair, in 
a speech to Congress, November 19, 1794, 
runs as follows: "It has demonstrated, that 
our prosperity rests on solid foundations; 
by furnishing an additional proof, that my 
fellow-citizens understand the true prin- 
ciples of government and liberty; that they 
feel their inseparable union; that, notwith- 
standing all the devices, which have been 
used to sway them from their interest and 
duty, they are now as ready to maintain 
the authority of the laws against licentious 
invasions, as they were to defend their 
rights. Let them persevere in their affec- 
tionate vigilance over that precious deposi- 
tory of American happiness, the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. Let them cherish 
it, too, for the sake of those, who, from 
everv clime, are daily seeking a dwelling in 
our land." 


Many times during his service as Presi- 
dent, and particularly in the Farewell Ad- 
dress of 1796, Washington dwelt upon the 
reciprocal interest of the sections. For 
example: "The North in an unrestrained 
intercourse with the South, protected by the 
equal Laws of a common government, finds 
in the productions of the latter great addi- 
tional resources of maritime and commercial 

enterprise — and precious materials of manu- 
facturing industry. The South in the same 
intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the 
North, sees its agriculture grow and its 
commerce expand. Turning partly into its 
own channels the seamen of the North, it 
finds its particular navigation envigorated; — 
and, while it contributes, in different ways, 
to nourish and increase the general mass of 
the national navigation, it looks forward to 
the protection of a maritime strength to 
which itself is unequally adapted. — The East, 
in a like intercourse with the West, already 
finds, and in the progressive improvement of 
interior communications, by land and water, 
will more and more find, a valuable vent for 
the commodities which it brings from 
abroad, or manufactures at home. — The 
West derives from the East supplies requisite 
to its growth and comfort, — and what is 
perhaps of still greater consequence, it must 
of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of 
indispensable outlets for its own productions 
to the weight, influence, and the future 
maritime strength of the Atlantic side of 
the Union, directed by an indissoluble com- 
munity of interest, as one Nation." 

OPENING OF THE WEST (1791-1799) 
So long and so bitter was the struggle 
between the radical and the conservative 
elements in Congress, in the Cabinet, and in 
the country at large that it seemed for a 
time as though the government would break 
down. Questions arose as to the admission 
of new states. Besides the thirteen political 
units previously represented in the Conti- 
nental Congress and the Congress of the 
Confederation, several other areas asked ad- 
mission. Rhode Island completed "the old 
thirteen" by ratifying the new Constitution 
in 1790, after which Washington took pains 
to make a visit to the new member of the 
Federal Union. The people of the so-called 
New Hampshire Grants, next west of the 
state of New Hampshire, were admitted as 
the state of Vermont in 1791. Virginia 
consented that the part of Virginia west of 

the mountains should be allowed separate 
organization; and in 1792 the common- 
wealth of Kentucky was admitted. The 
West again made a loud call and Tennessee, 
which until its cession to the federal gov- 
ernment in 1790 had been a part of North 
Carolina, came into the Union in 1796. 
Thus the number of states was raised to 
sixteen, each with its two senators and at 
least one representative in Congress. Among 
the early western senators was Andrew 
Jackson of Tennessee, then a backwoodsman 
who came to be the sixth man to follow 
Washington into the presidency. 

Before 1789 various states had ceded their 
claims to the region north of the Ohio River, 
and this had been formed in 1787 into the 
Northwest Territory. At the time of Wash- 
ington's death in 1799, the eastern portion 
of the territory was almost ready to enter 
the Union as the state of Ohio, thus creating 
a block of three states which extended from 
the British possessions of the north to near 
the Spanish colonies on the south. 

These admissions carried out a principle 
which Washington had long had in his mind, 
namely, that the West must be a part of 
the Union on equal terms with the New 
England, middle, and southern states. 
Washington, though born and brought up in 
the oldest English community on the conti- 
nent of North America, was always a west- 
ern man, looking toward the Great Lakes 
and the Mississippi and their control as ele- 
ments of a great western empire. The rapid 
development of the Union exactly fitted in 
with the hopes and expectations of his whole 
life. It was part of Washington's character 
that, though naturally interested in trade 
and commerce across the Atlantic, he be- 
lieved more than any other statesman of his 
time in the policy of pushing the frontier, 
as it had been pushed ever since the earliest 
colonization. No man of his time had so 
great an influence as Washington in the ex- 
pansion of population and of political and 
social ideas into the West. 

Part II 
Washington's Foreign Policy (1789-1797) 


As in domestic matters, so in the external 
relations of the United States, the founda- 
tions of a national diplomatic policy were 
laid in the colonial and revolutionary eras. 
For a century and a half the English colonies 
were occupied in settling wild North Amer- 
ica. They even made some local treaties 
with neighboring French and Dutch colo- 

nies, set on foot military and naval expedi- 
tions of their own, and sent envoys to the 
capitals of non-English colonies. Neverthe- 
less all permanent decisions as to lands, har- 
bors, fisheries, boundaries, and wars by land 
and sea were made in England by English- 

The one field of local diplomacy was with 
the Indian tribes, who were fierce enemies, 
but understood treaties and alliances. 

George Washington in 175 3 was an early 
colonial representative sent by the English 
in America to the Western Indians, as an 
incidental duty of his mission to the French 
commandant on the Ohio River, and he 
gained a knowledge of their character and 
their customs which was of great use to him 
during his presidency. 

The Revolution gave the first practical 
experiences to American diplomats — Jay, 

Washington as President 


Deane, Jefferson, John Adams, and others; 
but Franklin had been abroad for many 
years, and the others probably already knew 
as much so-called international law as most 
European statesmen. They gained an ac- 
quaintance with foreign courts and with 
the methods of diplomatic intercourse which 
made possible the treaties of that period. 
The United States found its strongest friend 
in France; and through the French officers 
Washington was brought into close contact 
with the French point of view. 

The two British questions of the debts 
and the boundary between the United States 
and Canada were adjusted for the time being 
while Washington was President. The rela- 
tions with France resulted from the Revolu- 
tion of 1789 which in a few years made 
France a conquering and aggressive power 
under Napoleon. Spain was an unwelcome 
neighbor in Louisiana and Florida during 
Washington's administration; and he was 
much disturbed by the practice of the 
North African pirates of capturing and 
enslaving American sailors. Most of these 
difficulties were postponed for adjustment 
by his successors. 


In the thick of the difficulties caused by 
the diplomatic representatives of France, in 
1793, using the ports of the United States 
as a basis for naval operations against Eng- 
land, Washington wrote: "I believe it is the 
sincere wish of United America to have 
nothing to do with the political intrigues, 
or the squabbles, of European nations; but, 
on the contrary, to exchange commodities 
and live in peace and amity with all the 
inhabitants of the earth. And this I am 
persuaded they will do, if rightly it can be 
done. To administer justice to, and receive 
it from, every power with whom they are 
connected will, I hope, be always found the 
most prominent feature in the administra- 
tion of this country; and I flatter myself 
that nothing short of imperious necessity 
can occasion a breach with any of them. 
Under such a system, if we are allowed to 
pursue it, the agriculture and mechanical 
arts, the wealth and population of these 
States will increase with that degree of 
rapidity as to baffle all calculation, and 
must surpass any idea your Lordship can 
hitherto have entertained on the occasion." 

Again he wrote: "What is to be done in 
the case of the Little Sarah now at Chester? 
Is the minister of the French Republic to 
set the acts of this government at defiance 
with impunity? And then threaten the 
executive with an appeal to the people? 
What must the world think of such con- 
duct, and of the government of the United 
States in submitting to it?" 

NATIONS (1794) 

The coming to the United States of visi- 
tors from Europe gave rise to protests from 
the legations of their home countries which 

led Washington to express himself on this 
type of immigration in 1794, as follows: 
"My wish is, and it is not less my duty as 
an officer of the republic, to avoid offence 
to powers with which we are in friendship, 
by conduct towards their proscribed citizens, 
which would be disagreeable to them; whilst 
at the same time these emigrants, if people 
of a good character, ought to understand, 
that they will be protected in their persons 
and property, and will be entitled to all the 
benefits of our laws. For the rest, they 
must depend upon their own behavior and 
the civilities of the citizens at large, who are 
less restrained by political considerations, 
than the officers of the government must 

In 1797, 'he warned against expecting 
"disinterested favors of friendship from any 
nation whatever." Again: "My policy has 
been and will continue to be 
friendly terms with but independent of 
all the nations of the earth; to share in 
the broils of none; to fulfill our own en- 
gagements; to supply the wants and be car- 
rier for them all." 

ADDRESS (1796) 

These principles are carefully stated in 
the familiar Farewell Address of September 
17, 1796: "Observe good faith and justice 
toward all Nations. Cultivate peace and 
harmony with all. — Religion and Morality 
enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good 
policy does not equally enjoin it? — It will 
be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no 
distant period, a great nation, to give to 
mankind the magnanimous and too novel 
example of a People always guided by an 
exalted justice and benevolence. — Who can 
doubt that in the course of time and things, 
the fruits of such a plan would richly repay 
any temporary advantages, which might be 
lost by a steady adherence to it? . . . 

"Europe has a set of primary interests, 
which to us have none, or a very remote 
relation. — Hence she must be engaged in 
frequent controversies, the causes of which 
are essentially foreign to our concerns. — 
Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us 
to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties in 
the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or 
the ordinary combinations and collisions of 
her friendships, or enmities. 

"Our detached and distant situation in- 
vites and enables us to pursue a different 
course. — If we remain one People, under an 
efficient government, the period is not far 
off, when we may defy material injury from 
external annoyance; when we may take such 
an attitude as will cause the neutrality we 
may at any time resolve upon to be scrupu- 
lously respected. When beligerent nations, 
under the impossibility of making acquisi- 
tions upon us, will not lightly hazard the 
giving us provocation; when we may choose 
peace or war, as our interest guided by our 
justice shall counsel." 

"So, likewise, a passionate attachment of 
one Nation for another produces a variety 
of evils. — Sympathy for the favourite nation, 
facilitating the illusion of an imaginary 
common interest in cases where no real com- 
mon interest exists, and infusing into one 
the enmities of the other, betrays the former 
into a participation in the quarrels and wars 
of the latter, without adequate inducement 
or justification: it leads also to concessions 
to the favourite Nation of privileges denied 
to others, which is apt doubly to injure the 
Nation making the concessions; by unneces- 
sarily parting with what ought to have been 
retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, 
and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties 
from whom equal privileges are withheld." 


Much more serious even than the selection 
of the group of American diplomats, most 
of whom had seen previous service at foreign 
courts, was the question of the reception of 
foreign representatives. The government of 
the United States was organized just as the 
government of France was plunged into a 
crisis by the French Revolution. One of 
the most difficult episodes in the diplomatic 
history of the United States was the mission 
of Genet, a fiery and uncontrollable repre- 
sentative of the new French Republic, who 
assumed that the United States was bound 
by gratitude to take up arms against Great 
Britain. Nowhere in his whole life was the 
hardheaded Washington more needed than in 
the quenching of this firebrand, who was 
backed up by a broad popular movement 
and, to some degree, by Thomas Jefferson, 
Secretary of State. Washington held that 
the United States of America had become a 
part of a family of nations and could not 
ally itself with any of the European powers, 
and was in no condition to risk its existence 
by ranging itself along fiery France or eager 
Great Britain. Washington thus laid the 
corner stone of the American diplomacy of 
the succeeding century and a half, under 
which the United States refused to be a 
party to European wars until it felt itself 
attacked in 1917. Washington's appeal to 
his countrymen, particularly in his Farewell 
Address of 1796, was to keep out of dis- 
putes between other nations and to preserve 
their own republic if attacked. 


The Federal Constitution for the first time 
established a definite and continuous au- 
thority over foreign relations through the 
express power of the President to appoint 
diplomatic representatives and to instruct 
them as to the bases of treaties, subject to 
ratification of the eventual document by a 
two-thirds vote of the Senate. Several of 
the American diplomats of the war period 
entered the new public service, Thomas Jef- 
ferson, John Adams, John Jay, and others; 
and the treaties already made with England, 
France, Holland, and Prussia continued in 


Honor to George Washington 

force. Otherwise it was necessary for Wash- 
ington to build up a diplomatic service; and 
still more important to decide what should be 
the attitude of the United States towards 
foreign nations. 

JAY TREATY (1794) 

One of the great services of Washington 
was to extend the diplomatic intercourse 
with other nations; and to settle, by means 
of the Jay Treaty, most of the vexatious 
questions left open with Great Britain by 
the treaty of peace of 1783. The Jay 
Treaty provided for the relinquishment of 
the western posts which the British con- 
tinued to occupy, for an arbitration of the 
British debts, and also for a settlement of 
the disputed northeastern boundary of the 
United States. The treaty, the first com- 
mercial one with Great Britain, was not very 
satisfactory to the Americans, especially as 
regards neutral trade and trade with the 
British West Indies; but it was all that Eng- 
land was willing to grant, and it gave to 
the United States the peace with honor 
which was at that time so necessary to its 
own secure establishment. 

Washington diagnosed clearly from the 
beginning that the trade and good will of 
England was essential to the prosperity of 
his country. He was strong for settling the 
debts with English merchants which were 
outstanding at the beginning of the Revolu- 
tion, and therefore remarked: "With respect 
to British debts, I would feign hope, let the 
eloquence or abilities of any man or set of 
men be what they may, that the good sense 
and justice of this State will never suffer 
a violation of the treaty or pass acts of 
injustice to individuals. Honesty in States, 
as well as individuals, will ever be found the 
soundest policy." 


Washington felt a keen interest in the 
control of the mouth of the Mississippi. In 
the years immediately following the war, 
when he was especially interested in the de- 
velopment of the Potomac River navigation 
as a means of directing western commerce 
to the Atlantic shore, he had considered that 
while Spain's policy in closing the naviga- 
tion of the river was impolitic, it gave a 
favorable opportunity for attaching the 
West to the Union by commercial ties. As 
President, however, he had come to realize 
that the free navigation of the Mississippi 
was of primary importance. It was during 
his second administration that the United 
States, taking advantage of the conditions 
in Europe which led Spain to desire peace in 
the New World, was able in 179 5 to nego- 
tiate the treaty of San Lorenzo, by which 
Spain agreed to the northern boundary of 
West Florida which the United States 
claimed, opened the navigation of the lower 
portion of the Mississippi, where Spain con- 
trolled both sides of the river, and also 
granted a place of deposit at New Orleans. 

The British and Spanish treaties strength- 
ened the Union in the West. 


Washington records very early in his first 
administration a discussion of a confidential 
character on several persons available for 
foreign appointments. "Mr. Madison took 
his leave to-day. He saw no impropriety in 
my trip to the eastward; but with respect 
to the private agent to ascertain the dispo- 
sition of the British Court with respect to 
the Western Posts and a Commercial treaty, 
he thought if the necessity did not press, it 
would be better to wait the arrival of Mr. 
Jefferson, who might be able to give the 
information wanted on this head — and with 
me thought that if Mr. Gouv'r Morris was 
employed in this business, it would be a 
commitment for his appointment as Min- 
ister, if one should be sent to that Court, 
or wanted at Versailles in place of Mr. Jef- 
ferson, and moreover if either of these was 
his wish, whether his representations might 
not be made with an eye to it. He thought 
with Colo. Hamilton, and as Mr. Jay also 
does, that Mr. Morris is a man of superior 
talents — but with the latter that his imagi- 
nation sometimes runs ahead of his judg- 
ment — that his manners before he is known, 
and where known, had created opinions of 
himself that were not favourable to him, 
and which he did not merit." 

One of the amusing features of the new 
diplomatic corps was the solemn conferences 
between the President of the United States 
and his advisors over a presentation medal 
to retiring diplomatic representatives ac- 
credited to the United States. Washington's 
diary thus states the issue: "Fixed with the 
Secretary of State on the present which (ac- 
cording to the custom of other Nations) 
should be made to Diplomatic characters 
when they return from that employment in 
this Country — and this was a gold Medal, 
suspended to a gold Chain — in ordinary to 
be of the value of about 120 or 130 Guineas 
— Upon enquiry into the practice of other 
Countries, it was found, that France gen- 
erally gave a gold Snuff-box set with dia- 
monds; and of differt. costs; to the amount, 
generally, to a Minister Plenipotentiary of 
500 Louisdores — That England usually gave 
to the same grade 300 guineas in Specie — 
and Holld. a Medal and Chain of the value 
of in common, 150 or 180 guineas the value 
of which to be encreased by an additional 
weight in the chain when they wished to 
mark a distinguished character. The Rea- 
son why a Medal and Chain was fixed upon 
for the American present, is, that the die 
being once made the Medals could at any 
time be struck at very little cost and the 
chain made by our artisans, which (while 
the first should be retained as a memento) 
might be converted into Cash." 


In 1789 Washington, in the consideration 
of an Indian treaty, presented to the Senate 
the problem of the "advice and consent," 
which the Constitution enjoined upon that 
body: "It doubtless is important that all 
treaties and compacts formed by the United 
States with other nations, whether civilized 
or not, should be made with caution and 
executed with fidelity. 

"It is said to be the general understand- 
ing and practice of nations, as a check on 
the mistakes and indiscretions of ministers 
or commissioners, not to consider any treaty 
negotiated and signed by such officers as 
final and conclusive until ratified by the 
sovereign or government from whom they 
derive their powers. This practice has been 
adopted by the United States respecting their 
treaties with European nations, and I am 
inclined to think it would be advisable to 
observe it in the conduct of our treaties 
with the Indians; ... It strikes me that 
this point should be well considered and 
settled, so that our national proceedings ui 
this respect may become uniform and be 
directed by fixed and stable principles. 
• • • 

"You have, indeed, advised me 'to execute 
and enjoin an observance of the treaty with 
the Wyandottes, etc. You, gentlemen, 
doubtless intended to be clear and explicit, 
and yet, without further explanation, I fear 
I may misunderstand your meaning, for if 
by my executing that treaty you mean that 
I should make it (in a more particular and 
immediate manner than it now is) the act 
of Government, then it follows that I am 
to ratify it. If you mean by my executing 
it that I am to see that it be carried into 
effect and operation, then I am led to con- 
clude either that you consider it as being 
perfect and obligatory in its present state, 
and therefore to be executed and observed, 
or that you consider it as to derive its com- 
pletion and obligation from the silent ap- 
probation and ratification which my procla- 
mation may be construed to imply." 


On the important question of the ultimate 
treaty power, Washington had very clear 
views which he thus expressed: 

"Having been a member of the General 
Convention, and knowing the principles on 
which the Constitution was formed, I have 
ever entertained but one opinion on this 
subject; and from the first establishment of 
the Government to this moment my conduct 
has exemplified that opinion — that the power 
of making treaties is exclusively vested in 
the President, by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate, provided two-thirds 
of the Senators present concur; and that 
every treaty so made and promulgated 
thenceforward became the law of the land. 

Washington as President 


It is thus that the treaty-making power has 
been understood by foreign nations, and in 
all the treaties made with them we have 
declared and they have believed that, when 
ratified by the President, with the advice 
and consent of the Senate, they became 
obligatory. In this construction of the Con- 
stitution every House of Representatives has 
heretofore acquiesced, and until the present 
time not a doubt or suspicion has appeared, 
to my knowledge, that this construction was 
not the true one. Nay, they have more 
than acquiesced; for till now, without con- 
troverting the obligation of such treaties 
they have made all the requisite provisions 
for carrying them into effect." 


To most foreign powers — which then 
meant only European powers — the United 
States of America in 1789 stood on about 
the footing of the present South African 
Free State toward Europe. It was a vigorous 
small country with great resources, a small 
population, far distant from the world cen- 
ters of power and military might. The only 
neighboring possessions of European settlers 
at that time were English Canada, Spanish 
Louisiana, Spanish Florida, and the various 
West Indian Islands. It is hard now to 
realize this isolation from civilization of the 
American people back of the coast. 

Nevertheless many forces were at work 
to draw the new little federal republic into 
the circles of European interests. The first 
of these was the transfer of Canada and the 
French colonies on the Atlantic coast to 
Great Britain in 1763. The "habitans" of 
French race and speech had no mind to be 
incorporated in the Protestant United States 
of America. The Great Lakes boundary as 
drawn by the treaty of peace in 1783 was 
very easy to lay out. Washington divined 
the significance of that line and also foresaw 
the establishment of a western center of 
trade for the United States. His engineer's 
eye saw the future importance of the Lakes; 
and he actually sketched an overland route 
from Virginia to the present Cleveland, and 
thence by water to Detroit. 

The treaty of 1783 dealt also with a 
northeastern frontier little known in detail, 
and very soon after the Revolution a serious 
difficulty came to the front regarding the 
boundary line between Maine (till 1820 a 
part of Massachusetts) and New Bruns- 
wick — a province said to be named for New 
Brunswick, New Jersey. That line caused 
an international difficulty which was not 
settled till 1842, and which kept alive a 
resentful feeling toward Great Britain, 
though, as stated above, the solving of the 
problem was begun under the Jay Treaty. 


Just as Washington was stepping into the 
presidency came the appalling French Revo- 
lution which did its best to draw the United 

States into war with England. Speedily fol- 
lowed the Terror, the destruction of royal 
government in France — the excesses of the 
Terror and the Jacobins. In 1794 the forces 
of order rallied and in a street fight in Paris 
in 1795 a young artillery officer named 
Bonaparte stood by the established govern- 
ment. Neither Washington nor anybody 
else in America foresaw the establishment of 
a French Empire. 

The outbreak of the European war 
brought Washington face to face with the 
issue of neutrality. France claimed special 
international privileges under the treaty of 
alliance of 1778. President Washington 
took the safe and reasonable ground that 
the United States was the ally of neither 
party in the European wars. 


On all these great questions of interna- 
tional responsibility Washington was in 
council with such men as John Adams and 
John Jay and Thomas Jefferson, skilled 
diplomats and experts in international law. 
Upon such councils was based his message 
of December 3, 1793. "As soon as the war 
in Europe had embraced those powers with 
whom the United States have the most ex- 
tensive relations there was reason to appre- 
hend that our intercourse with them might 
be interrupted and our disposition for peace 
drawn into question by the suspicions too 
often entertained by belligerent nations. It 
seems, therefore, to be my duty to admonish 
our citizens of the consequences of a contra- 
band trade and of hostile acts to any of the 
parties, and to obtain by a declaration of 
the existing legal state of things an easier 
admission of our right to the immunities 
belonging to our situation. Under these 
impressions the proclamation which will be 
laid before you was issued. 

"In this posture of affairs, both new and 
delicate, I resolved to adopt general rules 
which should conform to the treaties and 
assert the privileges of the United States. 
These were reduced into a system, which 
will be communicated to you. Although I 
have not thought myself at liberty to forbid 
the sale of the prizes permitted by our treaty 
of commerce with France to be brought 
into our ports, I have not refused to cause 
them to be restored when they were taken 
within the protection of our territory, or 
by vessels commissioned or equipped in a 
warlike form within the limits of the United 
States. It rests with the wisdom of Con- 
gress to correct, improve, or enforce this 
plan of procedure. 

"Where individuals shall, within the 
United States, array themselves in hostility 
against any of the powers at war, or enter 
upon military expeditions or enterprises 
within the jurisdiction of the United States, 
or usurp and exercise judicial authority 
within the United States, or where the pen- 
alties on violations of the law of nations 
may have been indistinctly marked, or are 

inadequate — these offenses can not receive 
too early and close an attention, and require 
prompt and decisive remedies." 
TRALITY (1793) 

On this basis Washington stood firm in 
refusing the demand of Genet that not only 
should the prizes captured by French ves- 
sels be brought into United States ports, 
which Washington acknowledged was a 
right under the treaty with France, but also 
that United States should become a place 
for fitting out expeditions against the 
British, and that captures made by such 
expeditions or those made within territorial 
waters of the United States should also be 
brought within the treaty privilege. Even 
Jefferson, who was far more sympathetic 
than Washington with the French, consid- 
ered Genet's demands excessive. 

The significance of the issue well appears 
in a list of questions which Washington sent 
to his Cabinet. The whole theory and 
practice of modern neutrality is involved. 

"I. Shall a proclamation issue for the 
purpose of preventing interferences of the 
citizens of the United States in the war 
between France and Great Britain, &c? 
Shall it contain a declaration of neutrality 
or not? What shall it contain? 

"II. Shall a minister from the Republic 
of France be received? 

"III. If received, shall it be absolutely or 
with qualifications; and, if with qualifica- 
tions, of what kind? 

"IV. Are the United States obliged by 
good faith to consider the treaties heretofore 
made with France as applying to the present 
situation of the parties? May they either 
renounce them, or hold them suspended till 
the government of France shall be estab- 

"V. If they have the right, is it expedient 
to do either, and which? 

"VI. If they have an option, would it be 
a breach of neutrality to consider the 
treaties still in operation? 

"VII. If the treaties are to be considered 
as now in operation, is the guarantee in the 
treaties of alliance applicable to a defensive 
war only, or to war either offensive or de- 

"VIII. Does the war in which France is 
engaged appear to be offensive or defensive 
on her part? Or of a mixed and equivocal 

"IX. If of a mixed and equivocal char- 
acter, does the guarantee in any event apply 
to such a war? 

"X. What is the effect of a guarantee 
such as that to be found in the treaty of 
alliance between the United States and 

"XL Does any particle in either of the 
treaties prevent ships of war, other than 
privateers, of the powers opposed to France 
from coming into the ports of the United 
States to act as convoys of their own mer- 
chantmen. Or does it lay any other re- 


Honor to George Washington 

straint upon them more than would apply 
to the ships of war of France? 

"XII. Should the future regent of France 
send a minister to the United States, ought 
he to be received? 

"XIII. Is it necessary or advisable to call 
together the two houses of Congress, with 
a view to the present posture of European 
affairs? If it is, what should be the particu- 
lar object of such a call?" 


The outcome proved how wise Washing- 
ton was in this policy of insisting upon our 
rights as an independent nation, of standing 
by our treaties, for preventing aggressions 
by Americans on the territorial rights of 
other nations. His policy of neutrality 
saved his country from being tangled in 
the Napoleonic Wars and eventually perhaps 
from suffering invasion. He always advo- 
cated good temper and moderation in our 
diplomacy, and stood by his constitutional 
right as a President to direct the diplomacy 
of the country, subject to the right of the 
Senate to ratify treaties by a two-thirds 
vote. His foreign policy is summed up in 
a letter to his Secretary of State, Randolph, 
in 1794: 

"My objects are, to prevent a war, if 
justice can be obtained by fair and strong 
representations (to be made by a special 
envoy) of the injuries which this country 
has sustained from Great Britain in various 
ways, to put it into a complete state of 
military defence, and to provide eventually 
for such measures, as seem to be now pend- 
ing in Congress for execution, if negotiation 
in a reasonable time proves unsuccessful." 

Also in 1796 he wrote James Monroe, 
whom he was about to supersede because of 
Francophilism: "I have always given it as 
my decided opinion, that no nation had a 
right to intermeddle in the internal concerns 
of another; that every one had a right to 
form and adopt whatever government they 
liked best to live under themselves; and 
that, if this country could, consistently with 
its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality 
and thereby preserve peace, it was bound to 
do so by motives of policy, interest, and 
every other consideration, that ought to 
actuate a people situated and circumstanced 
as we are, already deeply in debt, and in a 
convalescent state from the struggle we 
have been engaged in ourselves." 

NATIONS (1796) 
Similarly in 1795 he wrote Gouverneur 
Morris, Monroe's predecessor: ". . . sure I 
am, if this country is preserved in tranquil- 
lity twenty years longer, it may bid defiance 
in a just cause to any power whatever; such 
in that time will be its population, wealth, 
and resources. ... a liberal [British] policy 
will be one of the most effectual means of 
deriving advantages to their trade and man- 
ufactures from the people of the United 
States, and will contribute, more than any- 

thing else, to obliterate the impressions, 
which have been made by their late conduct 
towards us." 

The same sentiment is in his Farewell 
Address in 1796: "In the execution of such 
a plan nothing is more essential than that 
permanent, inveterate antipathies against 
particular nations and passionate attach- 
ments for others should be excluded; and 
that in place of them just and amicable 
feelings toward all should be cultivated. — 
The Nation, which indulges toward another 
an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness, 
is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to 
its animosity or to its affection, either of 
which is sufficient to lead it astray from its 
duty and its interest. Antipathy in one 
nation against another disposes each more 
readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold 
of slight causes of umbrage, and to be 
haughty and intractable, when accidental 
or trifling occasions of dispute occur." 


Washington's treaty of arbitration with 
Great Britain led him into a settlement of 
the boundary between Maine and Canada. 
He was greatly interested in the Mississippi 
question which was settled within four years 
after his death by the annexation of Louisi- 
ana. He had a hand in the construction of 
the first ships of war built by the United 
States under the Constitution. He began a 
long and heartbreaking negotiation with the 
Barbary powers for the freedom of Ameri- 
cans who had been made slaves by those 
pirate countries. 

Washington's ideas as to foreign relations 
were the same from the beginning of the 
Revolution to the end of his life twenty- 
four years later. As general of the armies 
he urged that temporary alliance with 
France which made independence possible. 
As President he declined to consider that the 
alliance of 1778 with France bound the 
United States to make war on Great Britain. 
As head of the diplomatic service he ob- 
tained commercial treaties and agreements 
with Great Britain and Spain, and opened the 
way for the later development of American 
commercial relations. 

In his Farewell Address of 1796 he laid 
down the basis of the relation of the United 
States and foreign countries in unforget- 
table phrases: "Against the insidious wiles 
of foreign influence, I conjure you to believe 
me, fellow-citizens, the jealousy of a free 
people ought to be constantly awake, since 
history and experience prove that foreign 
influence is one of the most baneful foes of 
republican Government. . . . 

"The great rule of conduct for us, in 
regard to foreign Nations, is, in extending 
our commercial relations, to have with them 
as little Political connection as possible. — So 
far as we have already formed engagements, 
let them be fulfilled with perfect good 
faith. — Here let us stop." 

PREPAREDNESS (1782, 1793) 

Preparedness was always an essential part 
of Washington's foreign policy. His atti- 
tude is shown by a letter written to Mc- 
Henry in 1782, when it was a question 
whether peace would come without further 
fighting: "If we are wise, let us prepare for 
the worst. There is nothing, which will so 
soon produce a speedy and honorable peace, 
as a state of preparation for war; and we 
must either do this, or lay our account for 
a patched up inglorious peace, after all the 
toil, blood, and treasure we have spent." 

Being criticised for insisting upon a well- 
organized militia, Washington defined his 
policy as follows: "Nor can such arrange- 
ments, with such objects, be exposed to the 
censure or jealousy of the warmest friends 
of republican government. They are in- 
capable of abuse in the hands of the militia, 
who ought to possess a pride in being the 
depository of the force of the Republic, and 
may be trained to a degree of energy equal 
to every military exigency of the United 
States. But it is an inquiry which can not 
be too solemnly pursued, whether the act 
'more effectually to provide for the national 
defense by establishing an uniform militia 
throughout the United States' has organized 
them so as to produce their full effect." 

Upon national defense Washington said in 
1793: "I can not recommend to your notice 
measures for the fulfillment of our duties to 
the rest of the world without again pressing 
upon you the necessity of placing ourselves 
in a condition of complete defense and of 
exacting from them the fulfillment of their 
duties toward us. The United States ought 
not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary 
to the order of human events, they will for- 
ever keep at a distance those painful appeals 
to arms with which the history of every 
other nation abounds. There is a rank due 
to the United States among nations which 
will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by 
the reputation of weakness. If we desire to 
avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; 
if we desire to secure peace, one of the most 
powerful instruments of our rising pros- 
perity, it must be known, that we are at all 
times ready for war." 


Military preparation included the intensive 
training of officers for the small standing 
army, and in his last annual address to Con- 
gress Washington said: "The institution of 
a military academy is also recommended by 
cogent reasons. However pacific the gen- 
eral policy of a nation may be, it ought 
never to be without an adequate stock of 
military knowledge for emergencies. The 
first would impair the energy of its charac- 
ter, and both would hazard its safety, or 
expose it to greater evils when war could 
not be avoided. Besides that war might 
often not depend upon its own choice. In 
proportion as the observance of pacific 
maxims might exempt a nation from the 

Washington as President 


necessity of practising the rules of the mili- 
tary art, ought to be its care in preserving 
and transmitting, by proper establishments, 
the knowledge of that art. . . . [We know] 
that the art of war is at once comprehensive 
and complicated; that it demands much pre- 
vious study; and that the possession of it, in 
its most improved and perfect state, is al- 
ways of great moment to the security of a 
nation. This, therefore, ought to be a seri- 
ous care of every government; and for this 
purpose, an academy, where a regular course 
of instruction is given, is an obvious expedi- 
ent, which different nations have success- 
fully employed." 


Since the World War of 1914-1918 and 
the formation of a League of Nations in 
1919, some efforts have been made to show 
that President Washington had in his mind 
something resembling that form of inter- 
national organizations. Though alliances 
and military leagues abounded throughout 
the eighteenth century, nothing approach- 
ing a league of nations to act in time of 
peace was put into effect. 

His unwillingness to venture the future 
of the United States on any combination 
of states is shown by a remark in 1793: 
"All our late accounts from Europe hold up 
the expectation of a general war in that 

quarter. ... I ardently wish we may not 
be forced into it by the conduct of other 
nations. If we are permitted to improve 
without interruption the great advantages, 
which nature and circumstances have placed 
within our reach, many years will not re- 
volve before we may be ranked not only 
among the most respectable, but among the 
happiest people on this globe." 

After retirement from the presidency he 
wrote to a friend: "No policy, in my 
opinion, can be more clearly demonstrated, 
than that we should do justice to all, and 
have no political connexion with any of the 
European powers beyond those, which result 
from and serve to regulate our commerce 
with them. Our own experience, if it has 
not already had this effect, will soon con- 
vince us, that the idea of disinterested 
favors or friendship from any nation what- 
ever is too novel to be calculated on, and 
there will always be found a wide difference 
between the words and actions of any of 


Washington's most striking remark on 
permanent world peace was made in 1786 
to Lafayette: "Although I pretend to no 
peculiar information respecting commercial 
affairs, nor any foresight into the scenes of 
futurity, yet, as the member of an infant 

empire, as a philanthropist by character, and, 
(if I may be allowed the expression,) as a 
citizen of the great republic of humanity 
at large, I cannot help turning my atten- 
tion sometimes to this subject. I would 
be understood to mean, I cannot avoid re- 
flecting with pleasure on the probable in- 
fluence, that commerce may hereafter have 
on human manners and society in general. 
On these occasions I consider how mankind 
may be connected like one great family in 
fraternal ties. I indulge a fond, perhaps 
an enthusiastic idea, that, as the world is 
evidently much less barbarous than it has 
been, its melioration must still be progres- 
sive; that nations are becoming more hu- 
manized in their policy, that the subjects of 
ambition and causes for hostility are daily 
diminishing; and, in fine, that the period is 
not very remote, when the benefits of a 
liberal and free commerce will pretty gen- 
erally succeed to the devastations and hor- 
rors of war." 

Valiantly he strove in the succeeding years 
of his presidency for peace abroad as well 
as progress at home, for "a General Peace" 
which he did not live to witness. He laid 
deeply and broadly the foundations of do- 
mestic and foreign policy upon which his 
country has become a world power which, 
more than any other great nation, stands 
for permanent peace. 

Part III 
Significant Events in the Public Life of George Washington 


1749, July 20 — Official surveyor of Cul- 
peper County, Va., through exami- 
nation and commission of William 
and Mary College. 

1752, November 6 — Appointed an Adjutant 

General of Virginia with rank of 
major; assigned to northern district 
November, 1753. 

1753, October 31-1754, January 16 — Takes 

Governor Dinwiddie's letter de- 
manding that the French withdraw 
from the Ohio country, to Le Gar- 
deur de St. Pierre, French com- 
mandant "on the Ohio," at Fort Le 
Boeuf (near Waterford, Pa.), and 
returns with reply. Perilous fron- 
tier journey. 

1754, April 2 — Begins march as Lieutenant 

Colonel of Virginia Regiment to 
reinforce and complete the fort at 
Forks of the Ohio (Pittsburgh). 
May 28 — Attacks French detachment 
under Jumonville; kills leader; be- 
ginning of French and Indian War. 

May 30 — Throws up a rude fort, Fort 
Necessity, in Great Meadow, Fay- 
ette Co., Pa. 

June 4 — Notice of appointment as 
Colonel on death of Colonel Fry, 
his superior officer. 

July 3 — Surrenders to French detach- 
ment at Fort Necessity, and under 
terms of capitulation begins march 
back to Virginia the next day. 

October — Resigns his commission as 
Colonel of Virginia Regiment; 
question of rank involved. 
1755, April 23 — Leaves Mount Vernon to 
join General Braddock's forces at 
Fort Cumberland, as volunteer aide 
on general's staff; appointment an- 
nounced on May 10. 

July 9 — Defeat of Braddock's army at 
the Monongahela; Washington ac- 
tive in withdrawing the remnant to 
Fort Cumberland. 

August 14 — Commissioned Colonel 
and Commander-in-Chief of the 

Virginia forces for protection of the 
frontier against Indians and French. 

1756, February 4-March 23 — Trip to Bos- 

ton to have Shirley decide question 
of rank in relation to a captain of 
Maryland militia who has a minor 
royal commission. 

1757, February 13-April 1 — Trip to Phila- 

delphia to attend conference Lou- 
doun has called of governors of 
southern colonies. 
175 8, June 24 — Begins his march from Fort 
Loudoun (Winchester) to join the 
Forbes expedition against Fort Du- 

July 24 — Elected to House of Bur- 
gesses (in his absence) from Fred- 
erick County. 

November 2 5 — Forbes's army occupies 
site of Fort Duquesne, French hav- 
ing destroyed the fort and retreated 
the day before. Washington re- 
signs militray commission soon 


Honor to George Washington 

1759, January 6 — Married to Martha (Dan- 
dridge) Custis, a wealthy widow. 
February 22 — Attends House of Bur- 
gesses as representative of Frederick 
County. Continues as Burgess from 
Frederick County, and after 176 5 
from Fairfax County, until he goes 
to the Continental Congress in 

1769, May 16 — Votes with other Burgesses 

in unanimous adoption of Virginia 
Resolves; Governor dissolves them. 
May 17. — Meets with other Burgesses 
at Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, to 
formulate the Virginia Non-impor- 
tation Association, which he signs 
next day. 

1770, October 5 -December 1 — Trip to and 

down the Ohio, and up the Great 
Kanawha, to select land for the 
grant to the officers of the First 
Virginia Regiment for their service 
in 1754. 

1772, April 11 — Virginia act for the im- 

provement of the Potomac. Wash- 
ington active in the promotion, but 
the Revolution interrupts all plans. 

1773, March 12 — The Burgesses appoint an 

intercolonial committee of corre- 
May 10-June 8 — Trip to New York to 
place stepson Custis in King's Col- 
lege. Dines with several governors 
and has intercourse with other 
prominent men along the way. 

1774, May 24 — Burgesses appoint a day of 

fasting because of the Boston Port 
Bill, and on being dissolved next 
day meet at Raleign Tavern and re- 
new the Non-importation Associa- 
tion, and suggest the calling of an 
intercolonial congress. 

May 3 1 — Attends a further delibera- 
tion of twenty-five Burgesses that 
results in a call for Burgesses to 
meet in a Provincial Convention on 
August 1. 

July 18 — Presides over Fairfax County 
mass meeting, which adopts the 
Fairfax County Resolves; member 
of Committee of Safety. 

August 1-6 — Attends the Virginia 
Provincial Convention at Williams- 
burg; elected a delegate to the 
(First) Continental Congress. 

September 5-October 26 — Attends 
Continental Congress at Philadel- 

1775, March 20-27 — Attends at Richmond 

the Second Provincial Convention; 
is again elected to Continental Con- 

May 10-June 22 — Attends (Second) 
Continental Congress at Philadel- 
phia; appointed to various military 
and financial committees. 

June 15 — Elected by Congress as Gen- 
eral and Commander-in-Chief of 
the Army of the United Colonies; 

accepts June 16; commissioned 
June 19. 
June 23 -July 2 — Journey to the army 
before Boston. Battle of Bunker 
Hill has occurred June 17. 
July 3 — Takes command at Cam- 
1776, January 18 — Arrival of Knox at camp 
with train of artillery from Fort 
March 4 — Dorchester Heights forti- 
March 17 — British evacuate Boston. 
April 4-13 — Journey to New York, 
where a British attack is expected; 
adequate preparations not possible, 
but defense of the city required for 
political reasons. 
May 2 3 -June 5 — At Philadelphia in 
consultation with Congress on plan 
of campaign. 
June 29 — British forces arrive before 

New York. 
August 27 — Battle of Long Island; 
followed by American retreat to 
New York City. 
September 13 — Skirmish at Kips Bay 
and evacuation of New York City. 
October 21 — Headquarters moved 
from Harlem Heights to Westches- 
ter County; White Plains, Octo- 
ber 23. 
October 28 — Battle of White Plains. 
November 16 — Surrender of Fort 
Washington, followed November 21 
by abandonment of Fort Lee on 
western side of the Hudson, and 
beginning of the retreat across New 
December 8 — Army crosses into Penn- 
December 2 5-26 — Recrossing of Dela- 
ware River and Battle of Trenton. 
1777, January 2 — Battle of the Assanpink. 

January 3 — Battle of Princeton, fol- 
lowed by advance across New Jer- 
sey and establishment of winter 
quarters at Morristown, January 6. 
May 2 9- July 3 — Headquarters at 

Middlebrook, N. J. 
July 3 — Army prepares to follow 
Howe either northward or south- 
July 3 1 — Army crosses into Pennsyl- 
vania as Howe has gone southward. 
August 2-4 — At Philadelphia in con- 
sultation with Congress. 
August 2 5 — British army begins to 
debark at Head of Elk, Chesapeake 
September 11 — Battle of Brandywine. 
September 26 — British occupy Phila- 
October 4 — Battle of Germantown. 
October 17 — Surrender of Burgoyne 

to Gates at Saratoga. 
November 9 — Letter to Conway on 

the Cabal. 
December 19 — Army goes into winter 
quarters at Valley Forge. 

1778, May 6 — Announces French alliance to 

June 18 — British evacuate Philadel- 
phia, retire across New Jersey, 
Washington in pursuit. 

June 28 — Battle of Monmouth. 

July 20 — British and American armies 
in about the same position as before 
the battle of White Plains. No 
major movements by either army 
until 1781. 

December 11 -June 3, 1779 — Winter 
quarters at Middlebrook. 

December 22 to February 2, 1779 — 
Washington in Philadelphia. 

1780, July 10 — French fleet and army under 

Rochambeau arrive off Newport, 
R. I. 

September 21-22 — Conference at 
Hartford, Conn., with Rocham- 
beau and Admiral de Ternay. 

December 6 to June 25, 1781 — Win- 
ter quarters at New Windsor, N. Y. 

1781, March 6-13 — At Newport in consul- 

tation with the French. 

May 19-24— At Weathersfield, Conn., 
in consultation with Rochambeau, 
planning ostensible attack against 
New York. 

July 6 — Junction of American and 
French armies at Phillipsburg, 
N. Y., but plan to attack New York 
not carried out. 

August — Cornwallis's British army 
following a Virginia campaign with 
Lafayette and Steuben, takes post at 

August 14 — Washington receives 
word of Comte de Grasse's fleet 
being intended for Chesapeake Bay. 

August 19 — Washington's and Ro- 
chambeau's armies begin the march 
to Virginia. 

September 5 — De Grasse prevents the 
British fleet under Graves from re- 
lieving Cornwallis. 

September 28 — Siege of Yorktown be- 

October 19 — Surrender of Yorktown; 
American army returns to the 
Hudson, but the French remain in 
Virginia until the latter part of 
1782, when most of them march to 
Boston and embark. 

November 26-1782, March 22 — At 

1782, May 22 — Washington rejects a sug- 

gestion of kingship. 

July 14-24 — At Philadelphia, with 

July 27-1783, August 18 — Headquar- 
ters at Newburgh, N. Y. 

1783, March 15 — Reply to the Newburgh 

Addresses; blocks direct action on 

April 19 — Cessation of hostilities. 
May 8 — Dines on a British warship 

with Carleton, after a conference; 

saluted with seventeen » uns on <J e - 

Washington as President 


parture, as high official of an inde- 
pendent nation. 

June 8 — Circular letter to the gover- 
nors of the states on political situa- 

June 19 — Elected President General of 
the newly organized military Soci- 
ety of the Cincinnati. 

July 18-August 5 — Makes a tour with 
Gov. Clinton through the Lake 
Champlain and Mohawk regions. 

August 2 5 -November 9 — Headquar- 
ters at Rocky Hill, N. J.; to be 
near Congress, then at Princeton. 

November 2 — Farewell Orders to the 

November 2 5 — Reoccupies New York 
City on British evacuation. 

December 4 — Takes leave of his offi- 
cers at Fraunces' Tavern, New 
York City. 

December 23 — Surrenders his com- 
mission of Commander-in-Chief to 
Congress at Annapolis. 

December 24 — Reaches Mount Ver- 
non to resume private life. 

1784, May 4-18 — Attends first general meet- 

ing of the Cincinnati at Philadel- 

September 1 -October 4 — Tour of his 
lands beyond the Alleghanies. Be- 
cause of Indian conditions does not 
go down the Ohio; makes inquiries 
and observations respecting the in- 
terlocking of branch headwaters of 
Potomac and Ohio and the possi- 
bility of improvements and uniting 

December 20-29 — Conference with 
committee of the Maryland Legis- 
lature as Virginia representative at 
Annapolis on Potomac improve- 
ment agreement. 

1785, January 5 — Virginia act to incorpor- 

ate the Potomac Company; organi- 
zation effected May 17 with Wash- 
ington as president; operations 
begin soon after and Washington 
makes many inspections. 
October 6 — Washington has first sit- 
ting for Houdon bust. 

1787, May 2 5 — Federal Convention meets at 

Philadelphia; Washington, a Vir- 
ginia delegate, elected president. 
September 17 — Draft Constitution 
signed; Convention adjourns. 

1788, June 26 — Constitution ratified by Vir- 

ginia; strong influence of Washing- 

1789, February 4 — Electoral vote for Presi- 

dent; Washington the unanimous 

choice; notified of election April 

April 16-23 — Triumphal journey to 
New York; on arrival occupies 
executive mansion already prepared 
for him. 

April 30 — Inauguration as President. 

June 1 — Signs first act of Congress. 

August 2 5 — Death of mother at Fred- 
ericksburg, Va. 

September 26 — Appointment of head 
executive officers completed, form- 
ing what came to be the Cabinet; 
but Jefferson as Secretary of State 
does not assume office until March, 

October 15-November 13 — Tour of 
New England states (except Rhode 
Island and Vermont, neither being 
yet a member of the new federal 
government) . 

1790, February 23 — Moves to second execu- 

tive mansion in New York. 

April 20-24 — Tour of Long Island. 

July 16 — Signs act for the permanent 
federal capital on the Potomac; 
Washington to appoint commission- 
ers and have an oversight in decid- 
ing on exact location of district, 
laying out of city, and selection of 
sites of public buildings. He is 
active in this work during his two 

August 15-22 — Visits Rhode Island 
via Long Island Sound, that state 
having finally ratified the Consti- 

August 30 — Leaves New York for 
Philadelphia, the new temporary 

1791, March 28-30 — At Georgetown; ex- 

amines surveys and L'Enfant's 
plans on location of federal capital. 

March 30 — Proclaims the boundary 
lines of the District. 

April 7- June 12 — Tour of the South- 
ern States. 

1792, April 5 — First of Washington's two 

vetoes of acts of Congress; on ap- 
portionment of representation. 
December 5 — Electoral votes cast; 
Washington unanimously reelected 

1793, March 4 — Second inauguration. 
April 22 — Proclamation of neutrality 

in war between France and Great 
May 18 — Receives Genet as French 

August 1 — Cabinet meeting; decision 
to request Genet's recall. 

September 18 — Lays cornerstone of 
Federal Capitol at city of Wash- 

December 3 1 — Jefferson resigns and 
becomes leader of opposition to the 

1794, April 16 — Nominates Jay as special 

minister to negotiate treaty with 
England; final attempt to avoid 
war over neutral rights and frontier 

August 7 — Proclamation on insurrec- 
tion in western Pennsylvania 
against excise tax; so-called Whiskey 

September 2 — Calls out the militia of 
several states against the insurgents. 

September 30 -October 27 — Journey to 
Bedford, Pa.; rendezvous of the 
militia; orders the advance over the 
mountains to begin on October 23. 

November 19 — Annual message, in 
which he denounces the Democratic 
"self-created" societies. 

1795, June 8 — Submits Jay Treaty to the 

Senate in special session. 
July 10 — Proclamation of amnesty for 

Western insurgents. 
August 1 8 — Ratifies Jay Treaty. 

1796, March 3 — Ratifies Spanish treaty of 

San Lorenzo. 

March 30 — Refuses House request for 
Jay Treaty papers. 

September 17 — Issues Farewell Ad- 
dress to people of the United States; 
it first appeared in Claypoole's 
(Philadelphia) American Daily Ad- 
vertiser, September 19. 

1797, February 28 — Washington's second 

veto; on military establishment. 

March 4 — Attends inauguration of 
John Adams, his successor. 

March 9-15 — Journey to Mount Ver- 
non where he resumes life of active 

1798, July 4 — Appointed Lieutenant Gen- 

eral and Commander-in-Chief of 
the armies for threatened French 
war; accepts, July 13, with a reser- 
vation as to field service. 
November 5 -December 19 — Trip to 
Philadelphia for consultation on 
military matters; his last extensive 
journey from Mount Vernon. 

1799, December 12 — Takes last ride out to 

his farms; catches cold, develops 

December 14 — Dies in his room at 

Mount Vernon. 
December 18 — Buried in the family 



Honor to George Washington 

Selected Authorities 

Baker, William Spohn — Washington 
after the Revolution. Philadelphia, Lip- 
pincott, 1898. 

Bassett, John Spencer — Federalist System, 
1789-1801 (American Nation, Vol. XI). 
New York, Harper, 1906. 

Beard, Charles A. — Economic Origins of 
Jeffersonian Democracy. New York, 
Macmillan, 1915. 

Bemis, Samuel Flagg, ed. — American Sec- 
retaries of State and their Diplomacy. 
Vol. II. New York, Knopf, 1927. 

Bemis, Samuel Flagg — Jay's Treaty; a 
Study of Commerce and Diplomacy. New 
York, Macmillan, 1923. 

Beveridge, Albert J. — Life of John Mar- 
shall. Vol. II. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 
1916. (Especially chs. ii-iv.) 

Bowers, Claude G. — Jefferson and Hamil- 
ton; the Struggle for Democracy in 
America. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 

Channing, Edward — History of the 
United States. Vol. IV. New York, 
Macmillan, 1917. (Especially chs. ii-vi.) 

Channing, Hart and Turner — Guide to 
the Study ami Reading of American His- 
tory. Rev. ed. Boston, Ginn, 1912. 
(Especially §§ 176-182.) 

Ford, Henry Jones — Washington and bis 
Colleagues (Chronicles of America, Vol. 
XIV.) New Haven, Yale University 
Press, 1918. 

Ford, Worthington Chauncey — George 
Washington. 2 vols. New York, Scrib- 
ner, 1900. (Especially Vol. II, chs. ix- 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — George Washington 
(American Statesmen, Library ed.). 2 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 
(Especially Vol. II, chs. ii-v.) 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — Alexander Hamil- 
ton (American Statesman, Library ed.). 
2 vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 
(Especially chs. v-ix. ) 

Maclay, William — Journal . . . 1789- 
1791. New York, Boni, 1927. (Earlier 

Morse, John T., Jr. — Thomas Jefferson 
(American Statesman, Library ed.). Bos- 
ton, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. (Especi- 
ally chs. viii-xi.) 

Osborn, Lucretia Perry, ed. — Washing- 
ton speaks for Himself. New York, 
Scribner, 1927. (Especially chs. ix, x.) 

Richardson, James D., ed. — Compilation 
of the Messages and Papers of the Presi- 
dents. Vol. I. Washington, Government 
Printing Office, 1896. 

Van Dyke, Henry — Americanism of 
Washington. New York, Harper, 1906. 

Washington, George — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick. Vol. 
IV. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 

Washington, George — Farewell Address 
to the People of the United States. (First 
printed in the American Daily Advertiser 
of Philadelphia, September 19, 1796; 
many reprints.) 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. (Especi- 
ally Vols. XI-XIII.) 

—*£ : <m ?£>— 


First in Peace 

From a painting by Henry Hintermeisier 

Pamphlet Number Nine 

Washington Proprietor of Monet Vernon 

Part I 
The Estate 

George Washington 

From the bust by Joseph Nollekens, modeled in London about 1805, and here repro- 
duced by permission of the Honorable Sol Bloom, of New York 


^N the Potomac, a few miles below 
the city of Washington, has been 
standing for nearly two centuries 
a mansion which is a shrine of 
humanity, for Mount Vernon is more than 
a national memorial. Distinguished pil- 
grims of many races lay wreaths at the 
tomb of him who devoted all he was and 
all he had to making freedom secure for 

Mount Vernon is the most famous home 
in the world. Nowhere else do we get so 
close to such an illustrious man. It is at 
Mount Vernon alone that Washington comes 
down from his heroic pedestal and reveals 

himself to us in the majestic simplicity of 
the Virginia farmer, the Cincinnatus of the 
West. Washington was not common clay, 
nor is Mount Vernon common earth. He 
could not have been such a patriot if he 
had not loved the place so much, because 
affection for the actual ground and wood 
and stone of the home is the most natural 
foundation of love of country. 

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, 
incorporated in 18 56, is the oldest patriotic 
organization of women in the United States. 
Wisely directed energy, unselfish devotion, 
and reverent patriotism — these conspicuous 
qualities of Washington have been mani- 
fested in an eminent degree by the Ladies 

of Mount Vernon in making permanent for 
us his hallowed shrine. Reassembling the 
original furniture and relics is the most 
wonderful of all the things that the Ladies 
of Mount Vernon have done. They have 
made the mansion a museum of priceless 
treasures, and it is the duty of patriotic 
Americans to see to it that everything that 
used to be at Mount Vernon is returned 


To know Mount Vernon one must visit 
it in rain and in sunshine, in winter and 
in summer, in the morning and with the 
lengthening shadows of the afternoon. The 
mansion is kept in such perfect condition 
that it gives no indication of having en- 
dured the storms of so many years. Yet 
you are surrounded by the atmosphere of 
the eighteenth century, that age of silk 
stockings, lace cuffs, powdered hair, and 
stately manners, so that one almost expects 
to see Lady Washington drive up with her 
coach and four. Life at Mount Vernon, 
though simple, was in the grand style; and 
the mansion, too, is simple, but with an air 
of elegance to a certain extent its own, for 
it is not entirely derived from its association 
with its illustrious proprietor. 

Though rich in memories, they are all 
noble; there is no skeleton in the closet and 
no ghost. Listen to what the old house has 
to tell you, for it is silently eloquent. As 
you walk through these rooms you are turn- 
ing the pages of history. No other private 
residence in the world is so permeated with 
the annals of a great nation, and its associa- 
tions are all the result of the life work of 
one great man. Here the ablest men came 
to confer with Washington. In the library 
he drafted historic documents and wrote 
hundreds of letters of the utmost importance 
to our country. It adds interest to the read- 
ing of a letter of Washington to be able to 
picture him as he wrote it in his library. 

We must visit Mount Vernon to know 
the real Washington; and, to know him as 
we ought, we should visit it many times 
and read and re-read his works, for the 
more we know of Washington the more we 
appreciate his home. There have been hun- 
dreds of books written about Washington, 
but the best will always be those he wrote 
himself. We should hear less about the 
hatchet and the cherry tree and other myths, 



Honor to George Washington 

and we should be better Americans if we 
read as much as we can of what Washing- 
ton himself has written; for, in so doing, 
we not only become acquainted with the 
first American but we also learn how our 
country was made a nation. 


The Vestry Book of Pohick Church re- 
corded November 18, 173 5, that Augustine 
Washington, father of George, was sworn in 
as vestryman and attended meetings August 
18, 1736, August 13, 1737, and October 3, 
1737, after which his name does not appear. 
By a deed recorded in October, 1740, Au- 
gustine Washington conveyed to his son 
Lawrence the 2 500 acres of land at Hunt- 
ing Creek, which was later called Mount 
Vernon. From Jamaica, May 30, 1741, 
Lawrence wrote his father, "I hope my lotts 
are secured, which, if I return, shall make 
use of as my dwelling." He did not return 
until the spring of 1743, and on the 19th 
of July was married to Anne Fairfax. It is 
difficult to understand how Lawrence could 
have given attention to the building of the 
original central part of the mansion at this 
time, and it seems more reasonable to at- 
tribute its construction to the loving care 
of Augustine for his son, who was to be 
married as soon as his military service was 
over, and to suppose that Augustine alluded 
to these facts when he had cut on the corner 
stone the initials L. W. with the heart and 
military axes. Augustine's will, executed 
April 11, 1743, gives Lawrence the "Land 
at Hunting Creek . . . with the water mill 
adjoyning thereto . . . And all the slaves, 
Cattle & Stocke . . . and all the household 
Furnature whatsoever now in & upon or 
which have been Commonly possessed by my 
said son." 

Lawrence called his estate Mount Vernon, 
thus showing his affection for his old chief, 
Admiral Vernon. The construction of the 
Great House went on at intervals during 
most of George Washington's life, nor did 
he consider it finished when he died. Au- 
gustine, Lawrence, and George were prob- 
ably its only architects. You may restore 
the house to its condition in Lawrence's 
time, in your imagination, by removing the 
portico, the colonnades, the third story, the 
banquet hall, the library, and replacing with 
a few cabins all the outbuildings except the 
barn. The mansion will be left about one- 
third of its present size, with two stories 
and a garret with gable roof and dormer 
windows. There were four rooms on each 
floor, a small porch at the front door, and 
chimneys at each end. Lawrence died at 
Mount Vernon, July 26, 1752, aged thirty- 

At the death of Lawrence's daughter and 
only surviving child, George inherited 
Mount Vernon, subject to a life interest in 
favor of the widow of Lawrence, who died 
in 1761. In October, 1754, George Wash- 
ington resigned his military command of 

i lie Virginia forces and retired to Mount 
Vernon, where he stayed till he set out with 
General Braddock in 1755; after that cam- 
paign he returned to Mount Vernon, where 
he remained in a weak and feeble condition. 
August 14 he was commissioned commander- 
in-chief of the Virginia forces, and he was 
for four years busy on the frontier, return- 
ing to Mount Vernon from time to time. 
In 1756, Washington wrote from Win- 
chester asking for leave of absence to attend 
a meeting of executors of the estate of Law- 
rence in September at Alexandria, "as I am 
very deeply interested, not only as an execu- 
tor and heir of part of his estate, but also in 
a very important dispute, subsisting between 
Colonel Lee, who married the widow, and 
my brothers and self, concerning advice in 
the will, which brings the whole personal 
estate in question." In September, 1757, 
Washington came to Mount Vernon to the 
funeral of William Fairfax, of Belvoir, the 
father of Anne. In November, Washington 
returned to Mount Vernon in bad health and 
was attended by his physician, Charles 
Green, who was also rector of Pohick 


When Washington's approaching mar- 
riage made it necessary to enlarge his man- 
sion, John Patterson wrote him, June 17, 
1758, that he would take the roof off the 
house as soon as the carpenters got the 
laths to shingle on. July 13, Patterson 
wrote, "The Great House was rais'd six days 
ago; sixteen thousand bricks have been 
burnt for the underpinning." July 14, 
Colonel John Carlyle wrote Washington that 
his house was now uncovered. August 13, 
Patterson reported that the outside of the 
house was finished. Humphrey Knight wrote 
Washington, August 24, "The great house 
goes on as brisk as possible. The painter 
has been painting 3 days. Our carpenter is 
now getting laths to sheath ye great house." 
The repairs included new weather boards, 
closets, floors, and a stairway to the attic. 
It is not necessary to go into the extensive 
alterations and additions which were made 
at various times later, as they have been 
fully described by other writers. 

In December, 1758, Washington resigned 
his commission. In January, 1759, he was 
married to Mrs. Martha Custis and stayed 
at his bride's estate, White House, in New 
Kent on the Pamunkey,and at Williamsburg, 
until the close of the session of the House 
of Burgesses in May, when the couple came 
to live at Mount Vernon. Washington 
wrote September 20, 1759: "I am now I 
believe fixd at this seat with an agreable 
Consort for Life. And hope to find more 
happiness in retirement than T ever experi- 
enced amidst a wide and bustling World." 
Both the White House and Mrs. Washing- 
ton's other residence, the Six Chimney House 
in Williamsburg, were finer mansions than 
Mount Vernon was at that time, but she 

cheerfully made her home in the remote 
"and humble" dwelling of Colonel Wash- 

From then until 1775 it was truly his 
home, and he proceeded at once to develop 
and enlarge the estate, adding many acres 
to the original property, but not at that 
time altering the main house, though he 
adjoined various outhouses in immediate 
connection, and improved the grounds. For 
instance, the diaries under date of March 27, 
1760, record: "Agreed to give Mr. William 
Triplet £18 to build the two houses in the 
Front of my House [this means the side 
away from the river] (plastering them also) , 
and running walls for Pallisades to them 
from the Great house, and from the Great 
House to the Wash House and Kitchen also." 
January 9, 1769, he was "At home all day, 
opening the Avenue to the House, and for 
bringing the Road along." The interior 
was largely refurnished, partly with Mrs. 
Washington's goods, partly with supplies 
from England; though it must always be 
remembered that the fact that he ordered 
such and such articles did not prove that 
he ever received them. 

For instance, the invoices show that for 
his painstaking order of busts of Alexander 
the Great, Julius Caesar, Charles XII of 
Sweden, and the King of Prussia (Frederick 
the Great), Prince Eugene, and the Duke 
of Marlborough, together with "Wild 
Beasts" and "Sundry Small Ornaments for 
chimy piece," he received, with the 
agent's explanation, "A Groupe of Aeneas 
carrying his Father out of Troy, with four 
statues, viz. his Father Anchises, his wife 
Cresusa and his son, Ascanius, neatly finisht 
and bronzed with copper . . . Two Groupes, 
with two statues each of Bacchus & Flora, 
. . .Two ornamented vases ...Two 
Lyons." Nevertheless he probably received 
the "1 Tester Bedstead 7 l /z feet pitch with 
fashionable bleu or bleu and White Curtains 
to suit a Room lind w't the Ireld. paper." 
The English traveler Burnaby, writing in 
1760, says of Mount Vernon at this time: 
"This place is the property of colonel Wash- 
ington, and truly deserving of its owner. 
The house is most beautifully situated upon a 
high hill on the banks of the Potowmac; 
and commands a noble prospect of water, of 
cliffs, of woods, and plantations." 


Washington described Mount Vernon as 
follows: "No estate in United America, is 
more pleasantly situated than this. It lies 
in a high, dry and healthy country, 300 
miles by water from the sea, and, as you 
will see by the plan, on one of the finest 
rivers in the world. Its margin is washed 
by more than ten miles of tide water; . . . 
This river, which encompasses the land the 
distance above-mentioned, is well supplied 
with various kinds of fish, at all seasons of 

Washington Proprietor of Mount Vernon 


the year; and, in the spring, with the great- 
est profusion of shad, herrings, bass, carp, 
perch, sturgeon, &c. Several valuable fish- 
ines appertain to the estate; the whole shore, 
in short, is one entire fishery." The estate 
was divided into Mansion House Farm, 
River Farm, Union Farm, Muddy Hole 
Farm, Dogue Run Farm. There were some 
thirty buildings at Mount Vernon, among 
which were the kitchen, connected with the 
mansion by an arcade, servants' quarters, 
butler's house, gardener's house, store house, 
smoke house, wash house, stable, coach 
house, barns, salt house, carpenter shop, 
spinning house, where sixteen wheels were 
kept going, green house, spring house, milk 
house, and an ice house which in mild win- 
ters was filled with snow. 

Washington was never really happy away 
from Mount Vernon. After the Revolution 
he wrote: "Agriculture has ever been the 
most favorite amusement of my life." In 
178 5 a visitor to Mount Vernon stated that 
Washington's greatest pride was to be 
thought the first farmer in America. That 
combination of accurate knowledge of hu- 
man nature and untiring industry which 
made him a great commander made him also 
a great farmer. He was master of the art 
of turning his circumstances to the best 
account. At Mount Vernon there was no 
want, because there was no waste when the 
master was there. 

It is extraordinary how much Washing- 
ton, who was the busiest man in America, 
did for his estate in a lifetime, during large 
portions of which he was absent in the serv- 
ice of his country. With the art of a skill- 
ful landscape gardener, he improved the 
natural beauties of the place. He wrote 
General Knox that, in the course of the 
conversation at Boston, he "was most in- 
terested by something which was said re- 
specting the composition for a public walk." 
Washington remarked that the Mount Ver- 
non land has "an understratum of hard clay 
impervious to water, which, penetrating that 
far and unable to descend lower, sweeps off 
the upper soil." Washington was anxious 
about the possibility of fire at Mount Ver- 
non, and that his fears were not without 
cause is shown by an entry in his diary, 
January 5, 178 8: "About Eight oclock in the 
evening we were alarmed, and the house a 
good deal a dangered, by the soot of one of 
the Chimneys taking fire and burning furi- 
ously, discharging great flakes of fire on 
the Roof, but happily by having aid at 
hand and proper exertion no damage en- 
sued." He wrote his manager: "I beg you 
will make my people (about the Mansion 
house) be careful of the fire; for it is no 
uncommon thing for them to be running 
from one house to another in cold, windy 
nights with sparks of fire flying and drop- 
ping as they go along, without paying the 
least attention to the consequences." 

In what he called his Botanical Garden, 
between the flower-garden and the spinner's 
house, Washington carried on much of his 
investigation. The nurseries, gardens, and 
greenhouse were filled with choice collec- 
tions of rare plants, fruit trees, vegetables, 
and flowers. To do this was not easy at 
a time when means of communication and 
transportation were almost primitive, but 
admirers in all parts of the world knew 
that the best way to please the most distin- 
guished man in the world was to send him 
a choice plant or animal for his estate. 
Washington's favorite Bible quotation about 
the shade of his own vine and fig-tree was 
not entirely a figure of speech, for fig-trees 
were trained on the warm side of the north 
garden wall, and he paid much attention 
to the cultivation of grapes. It is not in 
accordance with his character that the story 
by which Washington is most widely known 
represents him as wantonly destroying a 
cherry tree. In later years he wrote: "It is 
always in one's power to cut a tree down, 
but time only can place them where one 
would have them." The passages in Wash- 
ington's letters and diaries, in which he spoke 
of his trees, would make a book of consider- 
able size. The last time he left the house, 
which was the afternoon of the day before 
he died, he walked out through the snow to 
mark some trees to be cut down between 
mansion and river. One of his last letters 
was to his manager about the care of Mount 
Vernon. At his death he left written plans 
for the rotation of crops up to the end of 


Washington took great pains to secure 
the most exact information on subjects 
which interested him. All his life he was 
buying books. His library of more than a 
thousand volumes, mostly on agriculture, 
government, and military affairs, was a large 
one for that time. An interesting date is 
Friday, June 16, 1786, when Washington 
recorded: "Began about 10 Oclock to put 
up the Book press in my study." This was 
probably a press for copying letters. Wash- 
ington had at Mount Vernon more than two 
hundred folio volumes of his documents, 
and these formed only a part of his manu- 
scripts. His diary noted entire days spent 
in writing. In 1797, he stated that he 
intends to erect a building at Mount Ver- 
non for the security of his papers. How 
restful it was for him to turn aside from 
weighty and perplexing matters of state and 
the selfish designs of politicians, and to 
write: "I have a high opinion of beans." 
"Of all the improving and ameliorating 
crops, none in my opinion is equal to po- 

It was in his library that Washington 
made those painstaking studies of republi- 
can forms of government, the notes of 
which still exist in his writing. He made 
good use of them when he presided at the 

Constitutional Convention, which convened 
in 1787. We form a better idea of his sac- 
rifices for our country as we picture him 
before the convention, going around Mount 
Vernon for ten days with his arm in a sling 
because of rheumatism. Few Americans 
understand that if we had had no Washing- 
ton we should not have had our Constitu- 
tion; not only because of his powerful 
agency in framing it and his great influence 
in securing its adoption, but because the 
certainty that Washington would be first 
President made the people sure that the pro- 
visions of the Constitution would be in- 
terpreted with wisdom and executed with 
justice. Not until Washington was elected 
was the chief power in America vested in a 
single person, and in Washington the high- 
est power was entrusted to the most worthy, 
which is the greatest assurance of good gov- 
ernment. Respect for Washington among 
the nations of Europe gave dignity to our 
new government. 

POLITICS (1774) 

George Mason, who drafted the first Con- 
stitution of Virginia, lived at Gunston Hall, 
a few miles down the river. Among Wash- 
ington's papers are the Fairfax Resolves, in 
the writing of Mason, adopted by a county 
meeting of which Washington was chair- 
man, July 18, 1774. There were twenty- 
four of these resolutions, forming one of 
the most important documents in our early 
history. They may be summed up in the 
statement — we will religiously maintain and 
inviolably adhere to such measures as shall 
be concerted by the general Congress for 
the preservation of our lives, liberties, and 
fortunes. There can be little doubt that 
Washington and Mason did a large part of 
the work on these resolutions at Mount Ver- 
non. Two weeks later these resolves were 
in effect adopted by the Virginia Conven- 
tion, where Washington represented Fairfax 
County, and they formed the basis of Vir- 
ginia's instructions to her delegates to the 
First Continental Congress. Before that 
Congress Washington entered in his diary: 
"August 30 — Colo. Pendleton, Mr. Henry, 
Colo. Mason and Mr. Thos. Triplet came in 
the Eveng. and stayd all Night. 31. All 
the above Gentlemen dined here, after which, 
with Colo. Pendleton and Mr. Henry, I set 
out on my journey to Phila." Horatio Gates, 
Richard Henry Lee, and others had an im- 
portant conference at Mount Vernon, May 
3, 1775, and the next day Washington set 
out for the Second Congress at Philadelphia. 

Several of the many visitors to what 
Washington called his "well resorted tavern" 
have left descriptions of the house in these 
days of its prime. John Hunter, an English 
merchant, who was there in November, 
1785, wrote that he "rose early and took a 
walk about the General's grounds — which 
are really beautifully laid out. . . . The 
style of his house is very elegant, something 


Honor to George Washington 


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Washington Proprietor of Mount Vernon 


like the Prince de Conde's at Chantille, near 
Paris, only not quite so large; but it's a 
pity he did not build a new one at once, as 
it has cost him nearly as much repairing his 
old one. His improvements I'm told are 
very great within the last year. He is mak- 
ing a most delightful bowling green before 
the house and cutting a new road thro' the 
woods to Alexandria. It would be endless 
to attempt describing his house and 
grounds — I must content myself with hav- 
ing seen them. The situation is a heavenly 
one, upon one of the finest rivers in the 

Brissot de Warville gives his impressions 
in 1788: "You discover a country house of 
an elegant and majestic simplicity. It is 
preceded by grass plats; on one side of the 
avenue are the stables, on the other a green- 
house, and houses for a number of negro 
mechanics. . . . This house overlooks the 
Potowmack, enjoys an extensive prospect, 
has a vast and elevated portico on the front 
next the river, and a convenient distribu- 
tion of the apartments within. . . . Every 
thing has an air of simplicity in his house; 
his table is good, but not ostentatious; and 
no deviation is seen from regularity and 
domestic economy." 

Amariah Frost in 1797 "viewed the gar- 
den and walks, which are very elegant, 
abounding with many curiosities, Fig trees, 
raisins, limes, oranges, etc., large English 
mulberries, artichokes, etc. . . . There are 
beautiful groves arranged in proper order 
back of both the gardens and rows of trees 
exactly corrisponding with each other, be- 
tween which and the two gardens is the 
great green and circular walk fronting 
northerly from the house and seen at a great 
distance. The southern part of the house 
fronts the river. The house is long but 
not high, with a cupola in the center of the 
roof. The chamber windows are small, 
being only 12 lights, 8 or 10, or less, to a 
window. The lower windows are larger. 
Two wings and other buildings correspond- 
ing to each other on either side, also, a 
large piazza in the front, add much to the 
beauty of the house." 

When it became probable that Washing- 
ton would be chosen first President of the 
United States, he wrote John Armstrong: 
"I well remember the observation you made 
in your letter to me of last year, 'that my 
domestic retirement must suffer an inter- 
ruption.' This took place, notwithstanding 
it was utterly repugnant to my feelings, my 
interests, and my wishes. I sacrificed every 
private consideration, and personal enjoy- 
ment, to the earnest and pressing solicita- 
tions of those, who saw and knew the alarm- 
ing situation of our public concerns, and 
had no other end in view but to promote the 
interests of their country; conceiving, that 
under those circumstances, and at so critical 
a moment, an absolute refusal to act might 

on my part be construed as a total disregard 
of my country, if imputed to no worse mo- 
tives. ... I am so wedded to a state of 
retirement, and find the occupations of a 
rural life so congenial with my feelings, that 
to be drawn into public at my advanced 
age would be a sacrifice, that would admit 
of no compensation." 

When he was leaving to be inaugurated 
at New York, Washington wrote, April 16, 
1789: "I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to 
private life and to domestic felicity." That 
Mrs. Washington shared her husband's re- 
gret at leaving Mount Vernon is clear from 
the following letter written in December, 
1789: "I little thought when the war was 
finished that any circumstances could pos- 
sibly happen which would call the General 
into public life again. I had anticipated 
that, from that moment, we should be suf- 
fered to grow old together, in solitude and 
tranquility. That was the first and dearest 
wish of my heart. I will not, however, 
contemplate with too much regret disap- 
pointments that were inevitable; though his 
feelings and my own were in perfect unison 
with respect to our predelictions for private 
life, yet I cannot blame him for having 
acted according to his ideas of duty in obey- 
ing the voice of his country. It is owing 
to the kindness of our numerous friends, in 
all quarters, that my new and unwished for 
situation is not, indeed, a burden to me. 
When I was much younger I should prob- 
ably have enjoyed the innocent gayeties of 
life as much as most persons of my age; but 
I had long since placed all the prospects of 
my future worldlv happiness in the still en- 
jovments of the fireside at Mount Vernon." 

VERNON (1797-1799) 
Washington lived but two years and nine 
months after he retired from the Presidency, 
March 4, 1797. He wrote General Knox: 
"The remainder of my life, (which in the 
course of nature cannot be long,) will be 
occupied in rural amusements; and, though 
I shall seclude myself as much as possible 
from the noisy and bustling crowd, none 
more than myself would be regaled by the 
company of those I esteem, at Mount Ver- 
non; more than twenty miles from which, 
after I arrive there, it is not likely that I 
shall ever be." Washington wrote in Octo- 
ber, 1797: "An eight years absence from 
home (excepting short occasional visits) had 
so deranged my private affairs; — had so 
despoiled my buildings; — and in a word had 
thrown my domestic concerns into such dis- 
order, — as at no period of my life have I 
been more engaged than in the last six 
months to recover and put them in some 
tolerable train again." September 28, 1799, 
he wrote Lawrence Lewis: "It is my wish 
to place my estate in this country on a new 
establishment, thereby bringing it into so 
narrow a compass as not only to supersede 
the necessity of a manager, but to make the 
management of what I retain in my own 

hands a healthy and agreeable amusement 
to look after myself, if I should not be again 
called to the public service of the country." 
Who does not sympathize with Washington 
when he writes McHenry: "Although I have 
not houses to build (except one, which I 
must erect for the accommodation and se- 
curity of my Military, Civil and private 
Papers, which are voluminous and may be 
interesting), yet I have not one, or scarcely 
anything else about me that does not require 
considerable repairs. In a word, I am already 
surrounded by Joiners, Masons, Painters, &c, 
&c; and such is my anxiety to get out of 
their hands, that I have scarcely a room to 
put a friend into, or to sit in myself, with- 
out the music of hammers, or the odoriferous 
smell of paint." 

When you cross the threshold of the man- 
sion, you step into the home life of the 
Washingtons. George and Martha made 
their house a beautiful home, filled with 
handsome furniture of a period when furni- 
ture was noted for its substantial elegance. 
They were both of them particular about 
the appointments of the table, and Wash- 
ington goes with minute care into details 
of wine-glasses, finger-bowls, decanters, but- 
ter-boats, tureens, and other dishes. It is 
possible here to mention but a few of the 
priceless relics of Washington with which 
the Ladies of Mount Vernon have filled the 
mansion. His surveyor's tripod is in the 
library. At sixteen he was earning his living 
by surveying, and he worked at it in later 
years, sometimes making surveys of Hunting 
Creek and other streams on the ice. As late 
as April 21, 1785, he records that he went 
to Abingdon in his barge, "Took my Instru- 
ments, with intent to Survey the Land I hold 
by purchase on 4 Mile Run," three miles 
above Alexandria, but the surveying ended 
abruptly, because Billy Lee, who was carry- 
ing the chain, fell and broke his knee pan, 
so that he had to be carried to Abingdon 
on a sled, as he could neither walk, stand, 
nor ride. 

In the hall of Mount Vernon are the 
swords with which he directed his troops. 
In leaving them to his nephews he told them 
not to unsheath them for the purpose of 
shedding blood, except for self-defense or in 
defense of their country and its rights, and 
in the latter case to keep them unsheathed, 
and to prefer falling with them in their 
hands to the relinquishment thereof. Wash- 
ington's spyglasses are poor things compared 
with modern binoculars, but he was the best 
observer in either army, and always wished 
to do his reconnoitering with his own eyes. 
He strained his eyes, so that he had to use 
spectacles, and remarked that he had not 
only grown old but blind in the service. 
There is a flute in the music room, though 
Washington wrote Francis Hopkinson that 
he could neither sing one of his songs nor 
raise a single note on any instrument. In 
his earliest account-book there is an entry 


Honor to George Washington 

when Washington was sixteen "to cash pd 
yc Musick Master for my Entrance 3/9." 
Thirty windsor chairs were provided for the 
porch. The large number of chairs indi- 
cates that the Washingtons had to be pre- 
pared to receive many friends. 

Elkanah Watson, in January, 178 5, spent 
at Mount Vernon what he called "two of 
the richest days of my life." He said: "I 
found him [Washington] kind and benign- 
ant in the domestic circle, revered and 
beloved by all around him; agreeably social, 
without ostentation; delighting in anecdote 
and adventures, without assumption; his do- 
mestic arrangements harmonious and syste- 
matic. His servants seemed to watch his 
eye, and to anticipate his every wish; hence 
a look was equivalent to a command. His 
servant, Billy, the faithful companion of his 
military career, was always at his side, smil- 
ing content, animated and beamed on every 
countenance in his presence." Watson had 
a severe cough, and he said that some time 
after he had retired, "the door of my room 
was gently opened and on drawing my bed- 
curtains, to my utter astonishment, I beheld 
Washington himself, standing at my bed- 
side with a bowl of hot tea in his hand." 


In the hall hangs the original deed of 
1674 by which John Washington, the emi- 
grant, great grandfather of George, derived 
from Lord Culpeper his title to Mount Ver- 
non. The Houdon bust, which Stuart called 
the only representation of Washington better 
than his own portraits, was made at Mount 
Vernon. Houdon, the most celebrated 
sculptor of that time, came from France at 
the request of the General Assembly of Vir- 
ginia in order to model Washington from 
life. With his three assistants he arrived 
from Alexandria by water at eleven o'clock 
at night. He remained about three weeks, 
and made a cast of the face, head, and shoul- 
ders, and took minute measurements of the 
body. Amid so much that is vague and 
legendary, the Houdon statue stands forth 
clear in its artistic and historic accuracy. 
No work of art exists that is more authentic. 
It is historically marked by a chronological 
record of facts, resolutions, correspondence, 
and inscriptions. Lafayette said that it is 
a "fac-simile of Washington's Person." 

Other representations of Washington had 
been executed at Mount Vernon before the 
arrival of Houdon. In May, 1772, Charles 
Willson Peale painted Washington in the 
blue and red uniform of a colonel of Vir- 
ginia militia, and he made also miniatures 
of Mrs. Washington and her two children. 
Peale returned in January, 1774, and painted 
the portrait of John Parke Custis. April 28, 
1784, Robert Edge Pine came and remained 
three weeks, painting Washington and the 
two grandchildren, George Washington 
Parke Custis and Nelly Custis. 


Washington paid his debts promptly, and 
no man was more liberal to the poor or 
more ready to give his time and money to 
the public service. When he took command 
of the Army, in 1775, he wrote Lund 
Washington, who had charge of his affairs 
at Mount Vernon: "Let the hospitality of 
the house, with respect to the poor, be kept 
up. Let no one go hungry away. If any 
of this kind of people should be in want of 
corn, supply their necessities, provided it 
does not encourage them in idleness; and I 
have no objection to your giving my money 
in charity, to the amount of forty or fifty 
pounds a year, when you think it well be- 
stowed. What I mean by having no objec- 
tion is, that it is my desire that it should 
be done." "I wish that my horses and stock 
of every kind should be fed with judicious 
plenty and economy, but without the least 
profusion or waste." 

One of the overseers wrote: "I had orders 
from General Washington to fill a corn- 
house every year, for the sole use of the poor 
in my neighborhood, to whom it was a most 
seasonable and precious relief, saving num- 
bers of poor women and children from ex- 
treme want, and blessing them with plenty. 
. . . He owned several fishing stations on 
the Potomac, at which excellent herring were 
caught, and which, when salted, proved an 
important article of food to the poor. For 
their accommodation he appropriated a sta- 
tion — one of the best he had — and furnished 
it with all the necessary apparatus for tak- 
ing herring. Here the honest poor might 
fish free of expense, at any time, by only an 
application to the overseer; and if at any 
time unequal to the labor of hauling the 
seine, assistance was rendered by order of 
the General." 


In 1794, Washington gave his overseer 
definite instructions with regard to the en- 
tertainment of visitors at Mount Vernon. 
There were, he said, three classes of persons 
to whom should be given: "first, my par- 
ticular and intimate acquaintance, in case 
business should call them there, such for 
instance as Doctor Craik. 2dly, some of the 
most respectable foreigners who may, per- 
chance, be in Alexandria or the federal city; 
and be either brought down, or introduced 
by letter, from some of my particular ac- 
quaintance as before mentioned; or thirdly, 
to persons of some distinction (such as mem- 
bers of Congress, &c.) who may be trav- 
elling through the country from North to 
South, or from South to North. ... I have 
no objection to any sober, or orderly per- 
son's gratifying their curiosity in viewing 
the buildings, gardens, &c, about Mt. Ver- 
non; but it is only to such persons as I have 
described that I ought to be run to any 
expence on account of these visits of curi- 
osity, beyond common civility and hospi- 
tality. No gentleman who has a proper re- 
spect for his own character (except relations 

and intimates) would use the house in my 
absence for the sake of conveniency (as it 
is far removed from the public roads), unless 
invited to do so by me or some friend; nor 
do I suppose any of this description would 
go there without a personal, or written in- 

Washington's ability to express a proposi- 
tion clearly and to refuse a request grace- 
fully is exemplified in the following letter, 
which he wrote October 30, 1787: "My 
fixed determination is, that no person what- 
ever shall hunt upon my grounds or waters. 
— To grant leave to one, and refuse another, 
would not only be drawing a line of dis- 
crimination which would be offensive, but 
would subject one to great inconvenience — 
for my strict and positive orders to all my 
people are if they hear a gun fired upon my 
Land to go immediately in pursuit of it. — 
Permission therefore to any one would keep 
them either always in pursuit — or make 
them inattentive to my orders under the 
supposition of its belonging to a licensed 
person by which means I should be obtruded 
upon by others who to my cost I find had 
other objects in view. Besides, as I have not 
lost my relish for this sport when I can find 
time to indulge myself in it, and Gentlemen 
who come to the House are pleased with it, 
it is my wish not to have the game within 
my jurisdiction disturbed. For these reasons 
I beg you will not take my refusal amiss, 
because I would give the same to my brother 
if he lived off my land." 


A letter of General Greene, November 13, 
1780, tells of a hurried visit paid to Mount 
Vernon by Generals Greene and Steuben 
during the Southern Campaign, and was 
written to Washington: 

"Sir: I arrived here yesterday about noon, 
and met with a kind and hospitable recep- 
tion by Mrs. Washington and all the family. 
Mrs. Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Custis (who 
are here) and Mr. Lund Washington and his 
Lady are all well. 

"We set out this morning for Richmond, 
and it is now so early that I am obliged to 
write by candlelight. Nothing but the ab- 
solute necessity of my being with my com- 
mand as soon as possible should induce me 
to make my stay so short at your Excel 
lency's seat, where there is everything that 
nature and art can afford to render my stay 
happy and agreeable. Mount Vernon is one 
of the most pleasant places I ever saw; and 
I don't wonder that you languish so often 
to return to the pleasures of domestic life. 
Nothing but the glory of being Commander 
in Chief, and the happiness of being uni- 
versally admired could compensate a person 
for such a sacrifice as you make. Baron 
Steuben is delighted with the place, and 
charmed with the reception we met with. 
Mrs. Washington sets out for camp about 
the middle of this week." 

Washington Proprietor of Mount Vernon 


In March, 1781, Lafayette, who was 
carrying on operations in Virginia which re- 
sulted in the penning up of Cornwallis at 
Yorktown, came to Mount Vernon, but he 
was not entertained there by the General 
until he returned to America in 1784. Mrs. 
General Knox visited Mrs. Washington at 
Mount Vernon in October, 1781, while the 
siege of Yorktown was in progress. 

April 12, 1784, Luzerne, the French min- 
ister, who was spending several days at 
Mount Vernon, wrote of Washington: "He 
dresses in a gray coat like a Virginia farmer, 
and nothing about him recalls the recollec- 
tion of the important part which he has 
played, except the great number of foreign- 
ers who come to see him." Lafayette ar- 
rived in New York from France August 4, 
1784, and reached Mount Vernon August 
17, where he remained twelve days. No- 
vember 14 Washington went to Richmond, 
met Lafayette there, and the Marquis re- 
turned to Mount Vernon for a second visit 
of a week. November 29 Washington and 
Lafayette went to Annapolis, where he bade 
a final farewell to the Marquis. 

The years from 1784 to 1789 Washington 
called his furlough. Brissot de Warville, 
who visited Mount Vernon in 1788, wrote: 
"Mrs. Washington superintends the whole, 
and joins to the qualities of an excellent 
house-wife the simple dignity which ought 
to characterize a woman, whose husband 
has acted the greatest part on the theater of 
human affairs; while she possesses that 
amenity, and manifests that attention to 
strangers which renders hospitality so 
charming." Thomas Lee Shippen wrote 
from Mount Vernon: "Mrs. Washington is 
the very essence of kindness. Her soul 
seems to overflow with it like the most 
abundant fountain and her happiness is in 
exact proportion to the number of objects 
upon which she can dispense her benefits." 

During the Revolution Washington was 
always looking forward to the time when 
he could return to his beloved home. He 
wrote his wife: "I should enjoy more real 
happiness in one month with you at home, 
than I have the most distant prospect of 
finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven 
times seven years." 


Washington resigned his commission at 
Annapolis, December 23, 1783, and, once 
more a private citizen, reached Mount Ver- 
non with Mrs. Washington on Christmas 
eve. Relatives and friends had gathered to 
welcome them, and the servants made the 
night gay with bonfires, fiddling, and danc- 
ing. February 1, 1784, Washington wrote 
Lafayette: "At length, my dear Marquis, I 
am become a private citizen on the banks 
of the Potomac; and under the shadow of my 
own vine and my own fig-tree, free from 
the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of 
public life, I am solacing myself with those 
tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier. 

who is ever in pursuit of fame, the states- 
man, whose watchful days and sleepless 
nights are spent in devising schemes to pro- 
mote the welfare of his own, perhaps the 
ruin of other countries, as if this globe was 
insufficient for us all, and the courtier, who 
is always watching the countenance of his 
prince, in hopes of catching a gracious 
smile, can have very little conception." 


All his life Washington was an outdoor 
man. He was conceded to be the best 
horseman in Virginia. Before the Revolu- 
tion he rode a hunting two or three times 
a week with neighbors and guests, and the 
mellow baying of the long-eared hounds, the 
distant horn, and the view halloo, resounded 
from field and wood as the hunt swept on. 
When after foxes, sometimes the hounds 
would start a deer. Bears were seen near 
Mount Vernon as late as 1772. The wild 
turkeys sometimes weighed thirty or forty 
pounds. Before the Revolution we find 
Washington ordering for himself "1 pr. of 
best Buck Breeches pr. Mea'e sent last y'r, 
to J. Coleman, to have a side Pocket, and a 
Buckle behind A Gentleman's Hunt'g Cap, 
Coverd with Black Velvet, to fit a pretty 
large head, cushioned round or stuffd to 
make it sit easy thereon. A Silk Band, 
and handsome Silv'r Buckle to it. 1 pr. of 
Silver Spur's of the New'r Fashn. ... 1 
Best whole hunting Whip, pretty stout and 
strong, cap'd with Silver and my name and 
the y'r engraved thereon" "A Riding Frock 
of a handsome Drab colour'd broad Cloth 
with plain dble gilt Button's A Riding 
Waistcoat of Superfine Scarlet Cloth, and 
gold Lace with Button's like those of the 
Coat." "1 large loud Hunting Horn, lap'd 
and securd in the strongest manner." 

Washington went to many horse races, 
and on one occasion to a boat race on the 
Potomac. He made a fishing trip on his 
schooner that lasted for several days. Wash- 
ington and his neighbors on the Potomac 
had barges manned by negroes in uniform. 
Among his orders from England were "a 
whale boat, long narrow sharp at both ends"; 
also "1 doz'n Neat and light 18 Feet oars 
for a Light Whale Boat, the Blades scoop'd 
&ca. and Painted." Mr. Digges was a 
wealthy planter, whose estate, Warburton, 
could be seen across the Potomac in Mary- 
land. At a signal his barge and that of 
Washington would meet in the middle of the 
river and transfer passengers. Washington 
had also a ferry boat in which carriages and 
horses were "put over" the Potomac. In 
Washington's time hundreds of shad and 
thousands of herring were taken at Mount 
Vernon by means of seines drawn in by a 
windlass turned by horses. 


On each side of the east lawn a grove of 

locusts extended to the river. Trees and 

shrubs were carefullv trimmed to make a 

frame to the view of the Potomac, and care 

was taken to keep vistas open in every di- 
rection. The level lawn on the west front, 
with the wide serpentine walk shaded by 
weeping willows, the oval grass plot, the 
flower garden on one side and the kitchen 
garden on the other, were all laid out ac- 
cording to a plan drawn by Washington 
himself and still unchanged. He paid great 
attention to his lawns, and the first order 
sent to England after his marriage includes 
"a large assortment of grass seed." Care- 
fully trimmed box borders outline the paths 
today exactly as in Washington's time, their 
dark green making the flower beds flame 
like stained-glass windows. Roses named 
by Washington for his mother and for Nelly 
Custis. still bloom, together with yellow, 
damask, tea, and guilder roses. Old-fash- 
ioned flowers and plants are cherished — iris, 
sweetwilliams, spice pinks, ivy, honeysuckle, 
lilacs, and jasmine. Mrs. Washington's ac- 
tive interest in the garden is indicated by 
this extract from a letter of her husband: 
"I have, too, Mrs. Washington's particular 
thanks to offer you for the flower roots and 

No other living things bring us so close 
to Washington as some of the trees of Mount 
Vernon, for they were planted by him, and 
on them his eyes have rested with long and 
loving gaze. Washington studied as well as 
he could the economic value of forests and 
the ornamental properties of trees, but the 
technical aspects of forestry, such as refor- 
estation, the relation of forests to moisture 
and rain fall, water supply, climate, and 
public health were not so well understood in 
his time as they are now. The magnolia 
planted by Washington is the most famous 
tree at Mount Vernon. Three hemlocks 
planted by him still remain. Three box 
trees probably planted by him are among 
the handsomest and most interesting trees. 
Washington wished to have perfect speci- 
mens of every tree that would grow at 
Mount Vernon. He personally superintended 
the selection of the most beautiful from the 
neighboring woods, and watched them with 
care until it was clear that the transplanting 
was successful. He arranged them sym- 
metrically, and mingled forest trees, flower- 
ing shrubs, and evergreens so as to produce 
the most agreeable effect. 

Washington wrote January 27, 1785: "I 
went to Belvoir and viewed the ruined 
Buildings of that place. In doing this I 
passed along the side of Dogue Creek and 
the River to the White Ho. in search of Elm 
and other Trees for my Shrubberies, etca. 
Found none of the former, but discovered 
one fringe Tree and a few Crab trees in the 
first field bevond my line, and in returning 
home (which I did to Dinner) by the way 
of Accatinck Creek I found several young 
Holly trees." The next day he wrote: 
"Road to day to my Plantations in the Neck, 
partly with a view to search for Trees; for 
which purpose I passed through the Woods 
and in the first drain bevond the Bars in 


Honor to George Washington 

my lower pasture, I discovered in tracing 
it upwards, many small and thriving plants 
of the Magnolio, and about and within the 
Fence, not far distant, some young Maple 
Trees; and the red berry of the Swamp. I 
also, along the Branch within Colo. Mason's 
field, . . . came across a mere nursery of 
young Crab trees of all sizes and handsome 
and thriving, and along the same branch on 
the outer side of the fence I discovered sev- 
eral young Holly Trees. But whether from 
the real scarcity, or difficulty of distinguish- 
ing, I could find none of the fringe tree." 


At Mount Vernon the cultivation of no 
part of Washington's nature was neglected. 
He found abundant exercise for his body in 
hard work on his farms, in the long rides 
which it was necessary for him to take, in 
hunting with his horses and hounds, and he 
was a stately and graceful dancer. Books, 
letters, pondering on important matters and 
converse with intellectual neighbors like 
George Mason and Lord Fairfax, exercised 
his mind. He found uplift for his soul in 
reading his Bible, in communion with his 
good wife, who was a woman of eminent 
piety, and in the church services at Pohick 
and Alexandria. On Sundays, when the 
Washingtons were stormbound, he read the 
Bible and sermons to his family with dis- 
tinct and precise enunciation. There is a 
pocket note-book in which Washington has 
entered Bible references. His answers to the 
many congratulatory addresses from religi- 
ous societies are models of their kind. In 
1794 he wrote Charles Thomson that he had 
finished reading the first part of his transla- 
tion of the Septuagint. 

Washington often quoted the Scriptures, 
his favorite reference being to the verse in 
Micah about reposing under his own vine 
and fig-tree. He expresses a wish that the 
swords might be turned to plough shares, 
the spears into pruning-hooks, and as the 
Scripture expresses it, "the nations learn war 
no more." He regretted that Noah allowed 
the tobacco worms to get into the ark. 

His nephew, Robert Lewis, said that he 
had accidentally witnessed Washington's pri- 
vate devotions in his library both morning 
and evening, and had seen him kneeling with 
an open Bible before him, and that this was 
his daily habit. Washington went to his 
library at four in the morning, and, after 
his devotions, spent the time till breakfast 
in writing and study. He also spent an 
hour in his library before retiring at night, 
and he wrote: "It is my intention to retire 
(and unless prevented by very particular 
company, I always do retire) either to bed 
or to my study soon after candlelight." 

In 1789, acknowledging a sermon on the 
text "But ye shall die like men," Washing- 
ton not only said that he has read the ser- 
mon, but also that he approved the doctrine 
inculcated. August 14, 1797, Washington 
wrote the Reverend Zachariah Lewis, thank- 

ing him for the sermons he had sent, and 
saying that the doctrine in them was sound 
and did credit to the author. 


Nelly Custis wrote Jared Sparks with re- 
gard to Washington: "He attended the 
church at Alexandria when the weather and 
roads permitted, a ride of ten miles. In 
New York and Philadelphia he never omitted 
attendance at church in the morning, unless 
detained by indisposition. The afternoon 
was spent in his own room at home; the 
evening with his family, and without com- 
pany. Sometimes an old and intimate friend 
called to see us for an hour or two; but 
visiting and visitors were prohibited for that 
day. No one in church attended to the 
services with more reverential respect. My 
grandmother, who was eminently pious, 
never deviated from her early habits. She 
always knelt. The General, as was then the 
custom, stood during the devotional parts of 
the service." Bishop White stated that 
Washington's manner at church was always 
serious and attentive. A foreign house 
guest at Mount Vernon observed that on 
Sabbath evening there was no secular music 
and not even a game of chess. 

Throughout his campaigns Washington 
was always careful about religious services. 
William Fairfax wrote him in 1754 that he 
had no doubt that his having public prayers 
in camp would have great influence with 
the Indians. Washington persisted in his 
efforts for the welfare of his frontier troops 
and frequently read prayers and the Scrip- 
tures to his men. During the French 
and Indian War Colonel Temple "more than 
once found him on his knees at his devo- 
tions." In his diary at Williamsburg, June 
1, 1774, Washington recorded: "went to 
Church and fasted all day." Unless a 
clergyman was present Washington always 
asked a blessing at his table. The Pohick 
vestry book shows that from 1763 to 1774 
George Washington attended twenty-three 
of the thirty-one meetings of Pohick vestry, 
once he was sick in bed, twice he was in at- 
tendance on the House of Burgesses, and 
three times he is known to have been out of 
the county, and the other two times he was 
probably out of the county. Rev. Charles 
Green, who was rector of Pohick, 1738-65, 
was also the family physician and a valued 
friend. His successor, Rev. Lee Massey, 
wrote: "I never knew so constant an attend- 
ant in church as Washington, and his be- 
havior in the house of God was ever so 
deeply reverential that it produced the hap- 
piest effect on my congregation and greatly 
assisted me in my pulpit labors." 

In a letter to his neighbor, George Mason, 
written in 1769, Washington spoke of those 
"who live genteely and hospitably on clear 
estates," and this is an exact description in 
eight words of the life at Mount Vernon. 
Though Washington said, "We live in a 

state of peaceful tranquillity," Mount Ver- 
non was by no means quiet. The original 
brass knocker hangs on the central door, but 
it was rarely used, for long before reaching 
the door the arrival of company was an- 
nounced by the barking of the dogs. Martha 
Washington wrote that when she had gone 
on a visit and left her small son at home, 
every time the dogs barked she thought it 
was a messenger for her. If a day passed 
without company at Mount Vernon, Wash- 
ington mentioned it in his diary. It has 
been figured out that in two months in 
1768, Washington had company to dinner or 
to spend the night on twenty-nine days, 
and dined away or visited on seven. 

People whose very names their host did 
not know were entertained there. Mount 
Vernon stands back a mile from the road to 
Colchester. Though the house can be seen 
from a considerable distance, people did not 
arrive there by accident. In 1787 Wash- 
ington wrote that his house "may be com- 
pared to a well resorted tavern, as scarcely 
any strangers who are going from north to 
south, or from south to north, do not spend 
a day or two at it." "Those who resort 
here are strangers and people of the first 
distinction." Washington had so many let- 
ters to write and so much company that he 
was deprived of exercise. Persons who had 
been connected with the army wished cer- 
tificates in order to prove claims against the 
government; these made it necessary to 
spend much time consulting his records. 
For more than two years after the war he 
had no secretary. 

Though he lived simply and kept early 
hours, George Washington always paid great 
attention to the manner of doing things, and 
the grand air which he learned in his youth 
from Lord Fairfax he always retained. Dis- 
tinguished guests were lighted to their rooms 
by the general himself. The broad piazza 
overlooking the river was the usual meeting 
place when the weather permitted. The 
amount of entertaining which the Washing- 
tons expected to do may be inferred from 
the fact that six carving knives and forks 
were in the first order from England after 
their marriage. They were both of them 
particular about their clothes, china, furni- 
ture, and equipages. When at Mount Ver- 
non Mrs. Washington dressed plainly. When 
she drove to Alexandria or Annapolis or 
Williamsburg with her coach and four, with 
the negro postillions and coachman in white 
and scarlet, she dressed as was fitting. In 
December, 175 5, Washington ordered from 
London two complete livery suits for serv- 
ants. "I wou'd have you choose the livery 
by our Arms; only, as the Field of the Arms 
is white. I think the Cloaths had better not 
be quite so but nearly like the inclos'd. The 
Trimmings and Facings of Scarlet and a Scar- 
let Waistcoat ... If livery Lace is not 
quite disus'd I shou'd be glad to have these 
cloaths laced. I like that fashion best; also 
two Silver lac'd hatts to the above Liv- 

Washington Proprietor of Mount Vernon 


ery's." August 10, 1764, he ordered: "A 
Livery suit to be made of worsted Shagg 
of the Inclosed colour and fineness lined 
with red shalloon; and made as follows: The 
Coat and Breeches alike with a plain white 
washed button; the Button holes worked 
with Mohair of the same col'r. A collar 
of red shagg to the Coat with a narrow lace 
like the Inclosed round it; a narrow Cuff 
of the same colour of the Coat turn'd up 
to the bent of the Arm and laced round at 
that part; the waistcoat made of red Shagg 
(worsted Shagg also) and laced with the 
same lace as that upon the Collar and 
Sleeves." No doubt it was that the white 
flowers of the dogwood and the red of the 
red bud might reproduce his colors that, 
March 1, 1785, Washington planted "a circle 
of Dogwood with a red bud in the Middle, 
close to the old Cherry tree near the South 
Garden Ho[use]." 


While the sweet influences of Mount 
Vernon are sinking into our souls, let us not 
forget the gracious lady who inspired and 
comforted her husband throughout so many 
anxious years. Martha Washington preferred 
to remain in the background, so that her 
services to our country have never been 
understood and appreciated. She always en- 
couraged the general to patriotic effort at 
the sacrifice of that domestic life to which 
both were devoted. At the very beginning 
of the Revolution she wrote: "My mind is 
made up; my heart is in the cause." For 
that cause, which was our cause, the Wash- 
ingtons placed at stake their lives and all 
their earthly possessions. 

Edmund Pendleton left a charming de- 
scription of their hostess at Mount Vernon 
at the critical period of 1774: "I was much 
pleased with Mrs. Washington and her spirit. 
She seemed ready to make any sacrifice, and 
was cheerful, though I know she felt 
anxious. She talked like a Spartan mother 
to her son on going to battle. 'I hope you 
will all stand firm. I know George will,' 
she said. The dear little woman was busy 
from morning until night with domestic 
duties, but she gave us much time in con- 
versation and affording us entertainment. 
When we set off in the morning, she stood 
in the door and cheered us with the good 
words, 'God be with you gentlemen.' ' 

Martha Washington little thought, when 
she said good-bye to her husband in May, 
1775, that it would be more than six years 
before he returned to Mount Vernon, and 
that when she saw him next he would be 
five hundred miles away from home, at the 
head of the American army. Till she went 
to Cambridge she had never been farther 
north than Annapolis. She traveled in 
state in the family coach, attended by liv- 
eried servants and accompanied by her son 
and his wife. She filled her difficult posi- 
tion at headquarters in the Longfellow 

House with tact and courtesy, for she was 
equal to every situation in which her hus- 
band's exalted station placed her. 

The uniform testimony of those who 
knew Martha Washington is that she com- 
bined, in an extraordinary degree, dignity 
and affability. You will realize her delicacy 
of feeling and elevation of character when 
you read this exquisite letter which Martha 
Washington wrote in 1773 to the girl bride 
of her only son: 

"My dear Nelly: God took from Me a 
Daughter when June Roses were blooming. 
He has now given me another daughter 
about her Age when Winter winds are blow- 
ing, to warm my Heart again. I am as 
Happy as One so Afflicted and so Blest can 
be. Pray receive my Benediction and a wish 
that you may long live the Loving Wife of 
my Happy Son, and a Loving Daughter of 
"Your Affectionate Mother, 

"M. Washington." 


One of the three letters to his wife that 
has been preserved is the following: 

"Philadelphia, June 2 3, 1775. 

"My Dearest: As I am within a few min- 
utes of leaving this city, I would not think 
of departing from it with out dropping you 
a line, especially as I do not know whether 
it may be in my power to write again till 
I get to the camp at Boston. I go fully 
trusting in that providence, which has been 
more bountiful to me than I deserve and 
in full confidence of a happy meeting with 
you some time in the fall. I have no time 
to add more as I am surrounded with com- 
pany to take leave of me. I return an 
unalterable affection for you which neither 
time or distance can change my best love to 
Jack and Nelly and regard for the rest of 
the family; conclude me with the utmost 
truth and Sincerity, 
"Yr. entire, 

"G. Washington." 

On his appointment to command of the 
army, Washington wrote his brother, John 
Augustine: "I shall hope that my friends 
will visit and endeavor to keep up the spirits 
of my wife, as much as they can, as my 
departure will, I know, be a cutting stroke 
upon her; and on this account alone I have 
many disagreeable sensations." The general 
also wrote Jack Custis that he thought it 
absolutely necessary for the peace and satis- 
faction of his mother that he and his wife 
should live at Mount Vernon during his own 


Mrs. Washington described herself as 
being "a kind of walking perambulator" 
during the war. She spent every winter 
with the general at headquarters, and said 
that she heard the first and last guns every 

season, and "marched home when the cam- 
paign was about to open." Lord Dunmore 
came up the Potomac to capture her, but 
the Virginia militia assembled in such num- 
bers that he did not dare to attempt it. 
When her friends advised her to move back 
into the interior of the country, she said: 
"No, I will not desert my post." Valuables 
and important papers were kept in trunks, 
so that they could be moved at a moment's 
notice. In those times, when there were no 
telegraphs and telephones, what anxious days 
Martha Washington must have spent when 
important operations were in progress! For 
instance, when the British army was landing 
at the head of Elk, about to fight a battle 
which they expected would destroy her hus- 
band's army. Late in August, 1777, while 
reconnoitering before the battle of the 
Brandywine, Washington spent the night 
near the Head of Elk. This was the nearest 
that he came to Mount Vernon during the 
war, until, as he entered in his diary on Sun- 
day, September 9, 1781: "I reached my own 
Seat at Mount Vernon (distant 120 Miles 
from the Hd. of Elk) where I staid till the 
12th." The 10th, Washington wrote La- 
fayette: "We are thus far on our way to you. 
The Count de Rochambeau has just arrived. 
General Chastellux will be here, and we pro- 
pose, after resting to-morrow, to be at Fred- 
ericksburg on the night of the 12th." 


No man loved his home more than Wash- 
ington, and yet no man was so ready to 
leave it at his country's call. His accepting 
the command of the army in 1798 was the 
most patriotic act of all his patriotic life. 
His fame was bright and secure; he was 
comfortably established at Mount Vernon, 
where the infirmities of age were creeping 
upon him; he had everything to lose and 
nothing to gain; no man would be shrewder 
than Washington in understanding this; yet 
he was ready to sacrifice reputation and com- 
fort, because he thought that he might serve 
his country. He wrote: "As my whole life 
has been dedicated to my country in one 
shape or another, for the poor remains of it, 
it is not an object to contend for ease and 
quiet, when all that is valuable in it is at 
stake, further than to be satisfied that the 
sacrifice I should make of these is accept- 
able and desired by my Country." 

John Parke Custis, Mrs. Washington's son, 
left four children, the two youngest of 
whom were brought up by Washington. 
When in 1824 Lafayette last visited 
America, he told G. W. P. Custis that he 
had seen him first on the portico at 
Mount Vernon in 1784. "A very little 
gentleman, with a feather in his hat, 
holding fast to one finger of the good gen- 
eral's remarkable hand, which (so large that 
hand!) was all, my dear sir, you could well 
do at that time." Nelly, the sister of George 
Washington Parke Custis, used to stand on 
tiptoe to hold the button of the General's 
coat while she charmed him with her girlish 


Honor to George Washington 

confidences. Nelly Custis was married to 
Lawrence Lewis at Mount Vernon on Wash- 
ington's last birthday. At the wedding the 
General wore his old continental uniform 
of blue and buff, and this was probably the 
last time he had it on. The first child of 
Nelly Custis was born a few days before 
Washington's death at Mount Vernon. 

Washington would have been touched by 
the important part which school children 
have borne in the restoration of Mount Ver- 
non. He took an affectionate interest in the 
bringing up of youth, and there was no 
philanthropy for which he opened his purse 
more freely than education. Though God 
left him childless in order that he might be 
the Father of his Country, fondness for 
children was a charming characteristic, and 
the beautiful children and grandchildren of 
Mrs. Washington added joy to their life at 
Mount Vernon. Mrs. Fitzhugh, who, as a 
child, was a frequent visitor to Mount 
Vernon, said that often, when at their 
games in the drawing room at night 
— perhaps romping, dancing and noisy — 
they would see the general watching their 
movements at some side door, enjoying 
their sport; and if at any time his presence 
seemed to check them, he would beg them 
not to mind him, but go on just as before, 
encouraging them in every possible way to 
continue their amusements to their hearts' 

When, in 1773, Mrs. Washington's only 
daughter, beautiful Patsy Custis, was 
fatally stricken, Washington stated in 
his diary, June 19: "At home all day. 
About five oclock poor Patcy Custis 
Died Suddenly." The next day Washington 
wrote: "It is an easier matter to conceive, 
than to describe the distress of this Family; 
. . . the Sweet Innocent Girl Entered into 
a more happy & peaceful abode than any 
she has met with in the afflicted Path 
she hitherto has trod. She . . . expired in 
. . . less than two minutes without uttering 
a word, a groan, or scarce a sigh. — This 
sudden and unexpected blow, I scarce need 
add has almost reduced my poor Wife to 
the lowest ebb of Misery; which is encreas'd 
by the absence of her son, (whom I have 
just fixed at the College in New York 
. . .)." Patsy was laid to rest in the old 
tomb on the twentieth. The diary states 

the nineteenth as very warm and clear, with 
a south wind. The day of the funeral it 
was still very warm, with thunder and ap- 
pearances of rain, but none fell at Mount 
Vernon. The custom of placing the tomb 
near the mansion caused the departed to 
continue in a peculiar and intimate manner 
members of the household. 


In spite of the fact that his mother was 
vigorous to an advanced age, Washington 
wrote: "I am of a short-lived family and 
cannot expect to remain very long upon the 
earth." A few days before his death he 
pointed out to his nephew, Major Lewis, 
the spot where he intended to build the new 
family vault, saying: "This change I shall 
make the first of all for I may require it 
before the rest." The last entries in his 
diary are as follows: December 12, 1799, 
"Morning Cloudy. Wind at No. Et. and 
Mer. 33. A large circle round the Moon 
last Night. About 10 o'clock it began to 
snow, soon after to Hail, and then to a 
settled cold Rain. Mer. 28 at Night. 13. 
Morning Snowing and abt. 3 inches deep. 
Wind at No. Et., and Mer. at 30, contg. 
Snowing till 1 O'clock, and abt. 4 it be- 
came perfectly clear. Wind in the same 
place but not hard. Mer. 28 at Night." 
These are no doubt the last words Washing- 
ton wrote. 

The passing of this great soul has been 
described by Tobias Lear, who says that, 
although Washington himself had been in 
the saddle in the storm most of Thursday 
the twelfth, on the evening of which he 
was stricken with his last illness, he con- 
sidered the weather too bad to send his 
servant to the post office. "Between 2 and 3 
o'clk on Saturday morning he awoke Mrs. 
Washington and told her he was very 
unwell, and had had an ague. She would 
. . . have got up to call a servant; but he 
would not permit her lest she should take 
cold." He lay nearly four hours in a chill 
in a cold bedroom before anything was done 
or a fire lighted. When on his death bed, 
Washington said to Mr. Lear: 

"I am afraid I shall fatigue you too much; 
... it is a debt we must pay to each other, 

and I hope, when you want aid of this kind 
you will find it." He motioned to his at- 
tendant, Christopher, who had been stand- 
ing, to take a seat by his bedside. Wash- 
ington's patience, fortitude, and resignation 
never forsook him for a moment. He said: 
"I am not afraid to die, and therefore can 
bear the worst." The clock which was in 
the death chamber marked the hour 10.20 
P. M. 

POSSESSION (1799-1932) 

The history of the Mount Vernon Estate, 
including the tomb of George Washington 
and Martha Washington, is long and com- 
plicated. George Washington left the cen- 
tral part of the estate, including the 
mansion, to his nephew, Bushrod Washing- 
ton, who had not the means to keep up such 
a property and properly to receive the nu- 
merous visitors. Twenty years after Wash- 
ington's death the house and the tomb were 
falling into decay. Bushrod Washington, in 
1829, left the mansion and the surroundings 
to his nephew, John Augustine Washington, 
a son of Corbin Washington. Thence it 
passed to John Augustine's widow and to 
her son, the second John Augustine Wash- 

This story of neglect and decay would be 
sad enough if it did not lead up to the 
saving of Mount Vernon by the insistence 
of one woman, Ann Pamela Cunningham, of 
South Carolina. In 1853 she began to agi- 
tate for a federal society of women to take 
over and preserve the estate as a national 
shrine. What was then the immense sum 
of $200,000 was raised for the purchase of 
the mansion and the two hundred acres sur- 
rounding it. February 22, 1860, the Mount 
Vernon Ladies' Association, which became 
the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the 
Union, took possession of the estate. The 
history of that Association and its skillful 
and patriotic management of the Mount 
Vernon estate is a part of the long story of 
the association of the Washingtons with that 
estate. From 1674 to the present day, more 
than two hundred and fifty years, Mount 
Vernon has been a part of the history of the 
Washington family and hence of the history 
of the nation. 

Part II 
Ownership of Mount Vernon 

1607-1932 (325 YEARS) 

1607 — Occupied by Indian tribes; politically 

1607 — Colony of Virginia; asserts jurisdic- 
tion by first charter of 1606. 

1649 — Grant of Northern Neck by Charles 
II to a body of his adherents. 
Patent renewed August 3, 1663, 

and new patent granted May 8, 
1669, of which Lord Culpeper be- 
came managing partner. 

1674-5, March 1 — Joint grant by Culpeper 
to Nicholas Spencer and John 
Washington of 5,000 acres on the 
Potomac River. 

1677 — Confirmation by Virginia Council of 

the grant to Spencer and Wash- 

1677-8, January 11 — Will proved by which 
John Washington left his half of 
the grant to his son, Lawrence. 

1690 — Tract divided, Lawrence Washington 
taking 2,500 acres next to Little 
Hunting Creek. 

Washington Proprietor of Mount Vernon 


1698, March 30 — Will proved by which 
Lawrence Washington left the 
tract to his daughter, Mildred 

1726, May — Mildred Gregory and her hus- 
band deed the property to her 
brother, Augustine. 

1740, October — Augustine Washington 
transfers the property to his son, 
Lawrence. Confirmed by will, 
April 11, 1743, with reversion to 
George if Lawrence died without 

1752, September 26 — Will of Lawrence 
Washington proved, by which he 
leaves the property of 2,700 acres 
now called Mount Vernon to his 
infant daughter, Sarah, subject to 
his wife's life interest, and with 
reversion to his brother, George, 
for life only failing lawful issue. 

175 2 — Death of the child, Sarah. George 

Washington inherits Mount Ver- 

1754, December 16 — Widow of Lawrence 
Washington sells her life interest 
to George Washington. 

1754-1799 — Complete and undisputed own- 
ership of Mount Vernon by George 

1802-1829 — By will of George Washington 
proved on January 20, 1800, and 
following Martha Washington's 
life occupancy, his nephew, Bush- 
rod Washington, occupies the 
Mount Vernon mansion and some 
3,500 acres of surrounding land, 
the lawful heirs accepting other 
bequests in lieu. 

1829-1832 — Mansion and 1,225 acres of 
land held by John Augustine 
Washington, nephew of Bushrod 

1832-18 50 — Property held by Jane C. 

Washington, widow of John Au- 

1850-1858 — By deed of his mother, con- 
firmed by will in 185 5, John Au- 
gustine Washington is owner of 
the property. 

1858, April 6 — Contract to transfer Mount 
Vernon mansion, the tomb, and 
some 200 acres of land to the 
Mount Vernon Ladies' Association 
of the Union. 

1860, February 22 — The Association takes 
formal possession of the property; 
but legal title does not pass until 
November 12, 1868. 

1860-1932 — Property held and enlarged by 
the Association. 

1932 — The Mount Vernon Memorial High- 
way opened from the Arlington 
Memorial Bridge along the Po- 
tomac, to Mount Vernon by the 
United States George Washington 
Bicentennial Commission. 

Selected Authorities 

Baker, William Spohn — Washington after 
the Revolution. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 

Conway, Moncure Daniel — Barons of the 
Potomack and the Rappahannock. New 
York, Grolier Club, 1892. 

Conway, Moncure Daniel, ed. — George 
Washington and Mount Vernon. Brook- 
lyn, Long Island Historical Society, 1889. 

Custis, George Washington Parke — 
Recollections and Private Memoirs of 
Washington. Philadelphia, Flint, 18 59. 
(Other eds.) 

Ford, Paul Leicester — True George Wash- 
ington. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1896. 
(Especially chs. vii, viii.) 

Ford, Worthington Chauncey — George 
Washington. 2 vols. New York, Scrib- 
ner, 1900. (Especially Vol. I, ch. vii; 
Vol. II, ch. vi.) 

Harlan, Marian — Colonial Homesteads 
and their Stories. New York, Putnam, 

Haworth, Paul L. — George Washington, 
Country Gentleman. Indianapolis, Bobbs- 
Merrill, 1925. 

Herbert, Leila — First American; his 
Homes and his Households. New York, 
Harper, 1900. 

King, Grace — Mount Vernon on the Po- 
tomac. New York, Macmillan, 1929. 

Lear, Tobias — Letters and Recollections of 
George Washington. New York, Double- 
day Page, 1906. 

Lossing, Benson J. — Home of Washington. 
New York, Virtue & Yorston, 1871. 
(Other eds.; title varies.) 

Lowther, Minnie Kendall — Mount Ver- 
non, its Children, its Romances, its Al- 
lied Families and Mansions. Philadephia, 
Winston, 1930. 

Moore, Charles — Family Life of George 
Washington. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 

Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of 
the Union — Annual Reports. 

Osborn, Lucretia Perry, ed. — Washing- 
ton speaks for Himself. New York, Scrib- 
ner, 1927. (Especially ch. i.) 

Prussing, Eugene E. — Estate of George 
Washington, deceased. Boston, Little 
Brown, 1927. 

Rush, Richard — Washington in Domestic 
Life. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 18 57. 

Sawyer, Joseph D. — Washington. 2 vols. 
New York, Macmillan, 1927. 

Sipe, C. Hale — Mount Vernon and the 
Washington Family; a Concise Handbook 
on the Ancestry, Youth and Family of 
George Washington, and History of his 
Home. Butler, Pa., the Author, 1927. 

Washington, George — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick. 4 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 

Wilstach, Paul — Mount Vernon, Wash- 
ington's Home and the Nation's Shrine. 
Garden City, Doubleday Page, 1916. 


Pamphlet Number Ten 

Washington the Military Man 

By Col. Saonmel C. Vestal 
Part I 

George Washington 

From a portrait by Charles Wilhon Peale 


WASHINGTON is one of the most 
venerated men in history. His 
grave is a hallowed shrine for 
people of every race and nation. 
In his lifetime friends and foes alike joined 
in acclaiming his greatness; and, when he 
died, European nations, at war with each 
other, paid homage to his memory. He ranks 
so high in the esteem of mankind that he 
seems to stand above conflict and malice. 
The basis of his reputation in history is his 
career as a military man. 

As a boy, "Washington learned much from 
Lord Fairfax, an English nobleman, a con- 
tributor to the Spectator, and an accom- 

plished gentleman, who had come to America 
to look after his vast estates beyond the 
Blue Ridge Mountains. They became fast 
friends. From Lord Fairfax, Washington 
gained a knowledge of men and manners 
that no school could give. 

He was always an earnest student of the 
art of war. His elder brother, Lawrence 
Washington, brought military instructors to 
Mount Vernon to teach him all that was 
necessary to qualify young British officers 
for their positions. Washington, like Well- 
ington, was never drilled as a soldier in a 
companv. Nor did he ever drill a company. 
In the British service, the instruction of the 
men was done by drill sergeants. Not until 
Baron von Steuben came to the American 

army at Valley Forge did American officers 
drill their companies. 

Few officers, who have come to high com- 
mand at the beginning of a war, ever had 
as good and thorough training in command 
as Washington, when Congress selected him 
to lead the American forces. From his six- 
teenth to his twenty-seventh year, he passed 
his life on the frontier, surveying, explor- 
ing, and fighting the Indians and the French, 
with occasional returns to civilization. 
When he was sixteen, Lord Fairfax em- 
ployed him to survey his estate. At twenty- 
one, he went on a march through the wilder- 
ness to a French military post that chal- 
lenged control in the West. At twenty-two 
he commanded an expedition against the 
French. When he was twenty-three, Brad- 
dock took him on his personal staff for his 
ill-fated expedition; and then, for more than 
two years, he was stationed, in command, 
upon the frontier. In his twenty-seventh 
year, he led the advance guard of General 
Forbes' army through the wilderness and 
captured Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh. 
Thus, by turns, he led the hardy life of the 
frontiersman in contact with the Indians, 
and a cultivated, refined life in touch with 
the most important people in Virginia. 

In October, 1753, on the eve of the 
French and Indian War, he was chosen by 
Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, as an 
agent to warn the French away from the 
Ohio Valley. Dinwiddie wrote to the gov- 
ernor of Pennsylvania that he was sending 
"a person of distinction." Washington de- 
livered Dinwiddie's letter to the French com- 
mandant at Fort le Boeuf, about twenty 
miles south of Lake Erie, and, after many 
hardships and perilous adventures, returned 
to Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia, in 
January, 1754. 

On March 15, 1754, he was commissioned 
lieutenant colonel of the Virginia regiment, 
whose colonel, Joshua Fry, was ordered to 
march to the fort of the Ohio Company at 
the place where the Monongahela and Alle- 
gheny unite to form the Ohio River. Wash- 
ington himself was to advance, with two 
companies, and clear a road, wide enough 
for artillery and baggage, from Wills Creek 
to Red Stone Creek on the Monongahela. 
At Red Stone Creek, he was to fortify a 
position and hold it until reinforcements 
came. Washington learned, at Wills Creek, 


Washington the Military Man 


that the French had taken the fort, on the 
site of the present Pittsburgh. Although 
there was no bloodshed, this was the opening 
act of the Seven Years' War. The French 
strengthened the fort and named it Fort 

Washington began his advance through 
the wilderness, and, at Great Meadows, forti- 

ginians should march out with their arms, 
on condition that they would not return to 
the Ohio for one year. As Washington was 
short of ammunition, he agreed to these 
terms, and returned to Virginia with his 

For his services, he received the thanks of 
the House of Burgesses. Governor Din- 

fied a position, which he named Fort Neces- 
sity. Presently, he learned that the French 
were advancing against him. He did not 
await attack. He "set out in a heavy rain, 
and, in a night as dark as pitch," attacked 
a party of French and Indians, killed ten, 
including the French commander, Jumon- 
ville, and captured twenty-one. Washington 
continued his advance until he learned that 
a large force was moving against him. He 
returned to Great Meadows, and resumed 
work on Fort Necessity. Meanwhile, Colonel 
Fry had died at Wills Creek; and thus Wash- 
ington came to the command of the Virginia 
Regiment. The enemy appeared on July 3. 
After fighting all day, the French called out 
for a parley. They proposed that the Vir- 

widdie refused to be bound by the condition 
in the capitulation on the ground that, after 
signature, the French took eight British 
subjects, exposed them for sale, "and, miss- 
ing thereof, sent them prisoners to Canada." 
Throughout the campaign Washington 
had shown great boldness. With one hun- 
dred and fifty raw recruits he had advanced 
to meet a force, which, to his knowledge, 
numbered a thousand men. His fearlessness 
and the consequent timidity of the French 
went far to offset his inferiority in num- 
bers. The selection of Fort Necessity as a 
defensive position has been severely criti- 
cized, but without full account being taken 
of the firearms of the time, the need of 
water, and conditions in the dense wilder- 

ness. The youthful Washington learned a 
principle at Fort Necessity, which was of 
decisive importance in the Revolution — he 
never again allowed himself to be surrounded 
and besieged. 


The qualities which account for the as- 
cendancy of Washington over the Virginia 
authorities caused General Braddock to select 
him as a volunteer aide, when he arrived at 
Alexandria in February, 175 5. There is no 
better measure of the character of Washing- 
ton than the impression he made upon thv. 
stern English general. To the Englishman 
of that day, the colonists were beings of an 
inferior order. There was something, how- 
ever, about Washington which made the 
English treat him with the utmost courtesy 
and gained for him the respect and affection 
of the general. In wilderness warfare, 
Washington was a veteran; Braddock was a 

On May 29, the advance guard of Brad- 
dock's army began to move from Fort Cum- 
berland upon Fort Duquesne. Its progress 
was slow, as it had to build a road through 
the wilderness. When Braddock was setting 
out on his march, Washington made one of 
the astounding rides for which he was noted, 
from Fort Cumberland to Williamsburg, 
borrowed four thousand pounds for Brad- 
dock, and rejoined the army. 

The column crossed the Monongahela on 
July 9, seven miles from Fort Duquesne, 
and was almost immediately attacked by a 
force of French and Indians, within the 
present city limits of Pittsburgh. There 
was no ambush. It was a meeting engage- 
ment, in the forest, between 1,300 British 
and 900 French and Indians. The British 
fired first and, at the third volley, killed 
Captain Beaujeu, the French leader. One 
hundred of his men fled, but the rest, under 
Captain Dumas, quickly deployed into a 
formation resembling a two-tined fork, and 
enveloped the British flanks. The British 
remained in the narrow road and fired at 
an unseen foe. Had they, as Washington 
expressed it, filed off to the right and left, 
and taken to trees, gaining the enemy's 
flanks, as a party of Virginians actually did 
on the right flank, under Washington's di- 
rection, there would have been no such over- 
whelming disaster. On the contrary, the 
British would probably have won an easy 

The day before the battle, Washington, 
who was suffering from a fever, joined the 
main body, in a covered wagon. The sound 
of firing seems to have cured him. He 
mounted a horse and rode everywhere, carry- 
ing the orders of his general. Braddock, 
after having four horses killed under him, 
was mortally wounded. When the fallen 
Braddock gave the order to retreat, the men 
rushed to the rear and could be no more 
stopped, as Washington said, than "the wild 
bears of the mountains." Three hundred 


Honor to George Washington 

French and six hundred Indians killed or 
wounded seven hundred British troops. 
Seventy-two of the officers were casualties. 
Washington aided in carrying his wounded 
chief from the field. There was no pursuit. 
Washington had four bullet holes through 
his clothes, and he had two horses shot under 
him. Four days after the battle Braddock 
died. He bequeathed to Washington, as 
tokens of his gratitude and affection, his 
servant and his favorite horse. 


Washington emerged from the campaign 
the heroic redeemer of colonial honor. On 
August 14, 175 5, he was commissioned 
colonel and commander in chief of the 
forces raised for the defense of Virginia, and 
given full power to carry on offensive and 
defensive action. He was not yet twenty- 
four years of age. Washington's plan was 
to establish a central fort at Winchester and 
a few smaller posts as points of support for 
moving columns. He built Fort Loudoun 
at Winchester; but he got no further with 
his plan. The Assembly insisted upon a 
cordon system and voted to erect a chain 
of small forts; whereas Washington, with 
good reason, desired to have few forts and 
larger garrisons, so that more men would be 
available to seek out the savages in their 

He established his headquarters at Win- 
chester, and for more than two years de- 
fended 3 50 miles of frontier with 700 men, 
a task made difficult by the insubordination 
and irregular service of the soldiers and a 
lack of supplies. This situation was a pre- 
cursor of his experience in the Revolution. 
Virginia, like the Continental Congress, se- 
lected him for a most difficult service and 
then failed to support him adequately; each 
let him carry the burden almost unaided. 
In April, 1757, he wrote: "I have been 
posted . . . for twenty months past upon 
our cold and barren frontiers, to perform, 
I think I may say, impossibilities; that is, 
to protect from the cruel incursions of a 
crafty, savage enemy a line of inhabitants, 
of more than three hundred and fifty miles 
in extent, with a force inadequate to the 


From this irksome duty Washington was 
relieved by Pitt's energetic military program 
for 175 8, which called for an expedition 
against Fort Duquesne. Washington had 
urged the futility of defensive war, and the 
necessity of attacking the enemy. He joined 
the expedition. The new commander, Gen- 
eral Forbes, decided to cut a new road and 
move from Pennsylvania, instead of Vir- 

ginia, as a base. Washington insisted, in 
vain, that much time would be saved by 
following Braddock's route. The new road 
was shorter; but the work of construction 
delayed the expedition until the bad weather 

A detachment of 813 men, under Major 
James Grant, of the Highlander:, sent for- 
ward contrary to Washington's views, met 
the fate of Braddock's army. Grant himself 
and Major Andrew Lewis were captured. 
The garrison of Fort Duquesne did not await 
the attack of the main army, but retreated 
in the night; and, on November 25, 1758, 

always to good purpose. In early life he 
read carefully the history of England and 
the essays of the Spectator; and in later life, 
in writing to his step-grandson, he quoted 
Shakespeare from memory. His correspond- 
ence and his books deposited in the Boston 
Athenaeum give unmistakable evidence that 
for more than forty years he bought and 
read practically every technical military 
work upon which he could lay his hands. 
His report in 1753 upon Fort le Boeuf, and 
his solution of a tactical problem submitted 
to him by General Forbes in 175 8 for 
marching the command through forty miles 




the advanced troops under Washington took 
possession of the smoking ruins of Fort Du- 
quesne. They had passed through the field 
where the frozen bodies of Grant's men lay 
scattered. To these and the skeletons of 
Braddock's men they gave honorable burial. 
Scarcity of provisions compelled the army 
to flee from its conquest. A small garrison 
was left to rebuild the fort, which was 
christened Fort Pitt, in honor of the British 
Prime Minister; and the colonial troops re- 
turned to their homes. 


Here ended Washington's military service 
prior to the Revolution. He retired from 
the army and resumed his peaceful and in- 
dustrious life at Mount Vernon. He had 
entered the French and Indian War as a 
mere youth, and he came out the most dis- 
tinguished soldier of the British North 
American Colonies. 

Washington was not an unlettered man, 
in spite of the fact that he left school at 
an early age; like Wellington, he read when- 
ever he had an opportunity and he read 

of forested country, are the work of an 
officer with good training in technique. In 
his correspondence of 1776-1777, dealing 
with his second reconstruction of his army, 
the views expressed, especially as to cavalry 
and artillery, are decidedly such as could 
have been formulated only by a man of 
broad military reading and culture; and we 
know enough of his military household at 
that time to be sure that the views were his 
own. He had that rare combination of edu- 
cation, intuition, and common sense that go 
to make a man great. When asked by the 
Marquis de Chastellux, in later life, what 
professional military books he read with 
greatest pleasure, he replied, "The King of 
Prussia's Instructions to His Generals, and 
The Tactics of M. de Gnibert." In regard 
to his reading, he was silent, as on every- 
thing concerning himself. But no one has 
ever pointed to an instance where he showed 
himself to be ignorant of history or litera- 
ture. Washington's writings are a monu- 
ment to his greatness. He employed secre- 
taries and he signed papers prepared for him 
by his subordinates, but his writings were 
essentially his own. 

Washington the Military Man 


Part II 




Washington was a member of the Virginia 
Convention of 1774. All eyes were fixed on 
Boston, which had been closed as a port 
on June 1, by General Gage, commandant 
of the British garrison of 5,000 men. 

nental Congress, which was to meet in 
Philadelphia on September 5, 1774. 

In the Continental Congress, Washing- 
ton's polish, graciousness, practical knowl- 
edge, and reputation for personal intrepidity, 
showed their effect upon his fellow members. 
"If you speak of solid information and 
sound judgment," said Patrick Henry, 

Colonel Washington made the most eloquent 
speech in this colonial convention. "I will 
raise one thousand men," said he, "subsist 
them at my own expense, and march myself 
at their head for the relief of Boston." 
His national career began with his appoint- 
ment by the convention as one of Vir- 
ginia's seven delegates to the First Conti- 

"Colonel Washington is unquestionably the 
greatest man on the floor." 

When Washington returned home after 
the adjournment of Congress, Virginia was 
arming for war. Although he had long 
been out of the service, and Virginia had 
officers, like Andrew Lewis, who had won 
victories in recent conflicts with the Indians, 

Washington was called to command inde- 
pendent companies, by the popular will and 
the demand of the troops themselves. 

He was a member of the Second Conti- 
nental Congress, which met in Philadelphia 
on May 10, 1775; and he attended, in his 
uniform of blue and buff, as commander of 
the Virginia militia. 

The battle of Lexington had been fought 
on April 19, and on the next day General 
Artemas Ward had assumed command of 
the patriot forces assembling around Boston. 
In May, the British garrison was reinforced 
to 10,000 men. In the same month Ethan 
Allen and Seth Warner captured Ticonde- 
roga and Crown Point. 


On June 15, 1775, on a suggestion made 
by John Adams and seconded by Samuel 
Adams, both of Massachusetts, George 
Washington, of Virginia, then in his forty- 
fourth year, was unanimously chosen Com- 
mander in Chief of the Army of the United 
Colonies. It was the most important act of 
the Continental Congress. On that date the 
Army of the United States was born. It 
consisted of one man. 

Washington's selection was due to the 
reputation which he had gained in the 
French and Indian War, and to the deep 
impression which he had made upon the 
members of Congress. Washington's com- 
mission and the instructions of Congress to 
him were drawn up by a committee consist- 
ing of Richard Harry Lee, Edward Rutledge, 
and John Adams. 

Never was a mightier task given to a 
human being. "I have launched into a 
wide and extensive field," wrote he, "too 
boundless for my abilities, and far, very far, 
beyond my experience." 

Washington knew that he had behind him 
a brave and patriotic people; but one 
unskilled, untrained, unprepared for war, 
without arms, allies, money, or credit. He 
knew that he faced, almost inevitably, a 
repetition of his experience at Winchester; 
summer campaigns with unskilled forces and 
long winter vigils with an ever-diminishing 
number of famishing soldiers. His great 
struggle, as at Winchester, was not with the 
enemy, but with indifference and inefficiency 
at the seat of government. Washington's 
commission as "General and Commander in 
Chief of the Army of the United Colonies" 
was dated June 19, 1775. He set out with 
General Lee and his aides on the 23 rd for 
Boston. When the people of Philadelphia 
saw the heroic figure of Washington riding 
northward to assume command of the army, 
they took new courage. He had not gone 
twenty miles when he met a hard-riding 


Honor to George Washington 

courier bringing news of the Battle of 
Bunker Hill, then six days old. The Colo- 
nists had lost 495, including 30 prisoners, 
while the British had lost 1,054. 

On Monday morning, July 3, General 
Ward turned over his command to Wash- 
ington. "His excellency," wrote Surgeon 
Thacher in his journal on seeing him later 
in the same month, "was on horseback, in 
company with several military gentlemen. 
It was not difficult to distinguish him from 
all others; his personal appearance is truly 
noble and majestic, being tall and well pro- 
portioned." Mrs. John Adams, who saw 
him about the time he assumed command, 
wrote to her husband: Dignity with ease 
and complacency, the gentleman and soldier, 
look agreeably blended in him. Modesty 
marks every line and feature of his face." 

Washington found Boston enclosed, on a 
10-mile front, by American trenches and 
redoubts, manned by about 14,000 soldiers. 
One of his first acts was to order a raid on 
the British lines, in order to get information 
by capturing a prisoner, or as he himself 
said: "Having some Reason to suspect they 
were extending their Lines at Charles Town, 
I last Saturday Evening, ordered some of 
the Riffle Men down to make a Discovery, or 
to bring off a Prisoner. . . . They brought 
in two Prisoners whose Acct confirmed 
by some other Circumstances removed my 
Suspicions in part." 

After the battle of Bunker Hill, the 
British did not again attack American troops 
in intrenched lines. That battle taught 
them to respect the American marksman in 
a prepared position. The Americans were 
expert with the spade, and they astonished 

the British by their ability to construct field 
fortifications. Washington knew that, if 
his men were sheltered behind parapets, 
breastworks, or stone walls, they would give 
a good account of themselves; but he was 
convinced that they would not march boldly 
up to a work or stand exposed on a plain. 

IN CHIEF (1775-1776) 

From the first, Washington laid down 
the principle, for himself and for all other 
commanders, that Congress was the absolute 
master. He himself was its executive. 
Thus, he established the principle that the 
civil government is supreme. 

Washington's authority as commander in 
chief was not limited to the land forces. 
His control extended over the naval forces, 
as the President's power as commander in 
chief extends over our navy to-day; and 
he devoted much time and thought to cre- 
ating a navy. He established a force of 
armed ships; commissioned ship command- 
ers; and organized crews from soldiers. His 
naval personnel came from Colonel Glover's 
Marblehead regiment. This was the begin- 
ning of the United States Navy. Later, on 
October 5, 1775, Congress instructed Wash- 
ington to fit out armed vessels. He com- 
missioned John Manley, of Marblehead, 
commodore of the fleet. 

The origin of the war powers of the 
President of the United States, as Com- 
mander in Chief of the Army and Navy, is 
to be found in the acts of George Washing- 
ton, the General and Commander in Chief 
of the Continental Forces. The action of 
Washington in creating a navy, to meet an 

immediate necessity, without previous au- 
thority from Congress, is one of the first 
and best illustrations of the exercise of the 
war powers of the Commander in Chief of 
the Land and Naval Forces. The difficulty 
of reconciling the constitutional war powers 
of the President and the constitutional pow- 
ers of Congress, more apparent than real, 
may be traced back to the relations between 
Washington and the Continental Congress. 


Lack of powder was the great obstacle to 
offensive operations. Washington had only 
enough powder to supply 2 5 rounds per man 
and one day's artillery fire, while the British 
had large reserves and their soldiers carried 
60 rounds. It is said that, when the battle 
of Lexington was fought, there was not 
enough powder in America, outside of the 
British magazines, to last for a week's fight- 
ing. Washington sent an expedition to Ti- 
conderoga and Crown Point, under Colonel 
Knox, who secured for him artillery and 
ammunition so necessary for his siege opera- 
tions against the city of Boston. The Ameri- 
cans also owed much to captures by Wash- 
ington's naval forces. The British supply 
ship Nancy, captured during the siege, alone 
yielded 2,000 British muskets, 30,000 round 
shot, 100,000 flints, and a 2,700-pound 13- 
inch mortar. 

Washington showed his characteristic 
boldness in the first year of his command, 
by sending an expedition, under Montgom- 
ery, against Montreal and another, under 
Arnold, against Quebec. These expeditions 
failed, but they had their compensations, 
because the British accumulated in Canada 
troops which could have been used more 
effectively in the insurgent colonies. In 
1776, their armed forces in Canada num- 
bered 13,000 men. Washington's instruc- 
tions to Arnold, in regard to his treatment 
of the Canadians, their property, and their 
religion, are models of wisdom from a po- 
litical and military point of view. 

Welcome reinforcements arrived from the 
South; but, as the leaves fell and the wild 
fowl flew southward, Washington found 
himself face to face with the first of eight 
dreary winters, which he was to pass in 
cantonments, beleaguering British troops 
comfortably quartered in American cities. 


Washington gained possession of Boston 
in March, 1776, by a manoeuvre similar to 
that by which Napoleon Bonaparte forced 
the evacuation of Toulon, in 1793. He 
seized high ground on Dorchester Heights, 
overlooking the city and the harbor, from 
which he could bring artillery fire upon the 
British shipping. The British withdrew 
hastily, leaving much valuable property. 

They burnt or blew up their harbor de- 
fenses and attempted to destroy or spike 
their cannon, with little success, or threw 
them into the sea. The Americans found, 
or recovered, 2 50 cannon of various calibers. 

Washington the Military Man 





by the aid of which they reconstituted the 
old harbor defenses and built new ones. 
Thanks to these defenses, Boston was the 
only important American port that was not 
taken or burnt by the British during the 
remainder of the war. 

The capture of Boston was a great achieve- 
ment. Washington had maintained his 
army for six months without powder, and 
had virtually disbanded one army and re- 
cruited another within musket shot of 
twenty British regiments. For taking the 
city he received a gold medal and a vote of 
thanks from Congress. This was the first 
of eight occasions when Congress passed a 
vote of thanks in honor of its illustrious 

A reported conversation of Washington 
with a little girl in Boston, the day his 
forces occupied the city, March 17, 1776, 
gives a graphic picture of the Revolutionary 
Army. He asked her which she liked better, 
the Redcoats or the Provincials. "The Red- 
coats," said the child. "Ah, my dear," said 
Washington, "they look better, but they 
don't fight. The ragged fellows are the 
best for fighting." 


The British retired to Halifax; but Wash- 
ington anticipated that their next move 
would be against New York. He left a 
garrison of five regiments in Boston, and 
hurried away with the rest of the forces to 
New York. 

While the British were still in Boston, 
Washington had sent General Charles Lee to 
New York to prepare its defense. As early 
as March 14, 1776, Washington pointed out, 
in a letter to Lord Stirling, the strategic 
value of New York and the Hudson as a 

means for the British to "stop the inter- 
course between the northern and southern 
colonies, upon which depends the safety of 

The shore of Manhattan Island was girdled 
with small forts, erected by General Lee, 
but unfortunately the range of the guns 
was not sufficient to prevent British vessels 
from passing through the wide channel. 
Owing to the lack of heavy guns in the 
harbor defenses, New York was indefensible 
against the combined attack of the British 
military and naval forces. To have aban- 

doned the city without a struggle, however, 
would have been fatal politically to the 
American cause. Washington reached New 
York on April 13. British men-of-war soon 
began to arrive in the harbor, and a large 
force, under General Sir William Howe, de- 
barked on Staten Island. Admiral Lord 
Howe arrived with a fleet and more troops 
on July 12. Thither came Lord Dunmore, 
from Virginia, and Clinton and Cornwallis, 
from South Carolina, after the British naval 
repulse on June 28, at Fort Moultrie. With 
15,000 ragged troops fit for duty, Wash- 
ington faced 30,000 of the best European 
troops, aided by the best navy in the world. 


To defend New York it was necessary to 
defend Brooklyn; and the measures for the 
defense of Brooklyn had been taken by Lee 
before Washington's arrival. The extent of 
the British effort exceeded Washington's ex- 
pectations. He was in a quandary as to 
whether they intended to attack New York 
or Brooklyn. 

On August 22, 1776, the British landed, 
according to information received by Wash- 
ington, about eight thousand men on Long 
Island. He immediately sent six regiments 
over to Brooklyn, where the Americans held 
lines behind the village. He was playing a 
dangerous but skillful game with the British 
naval and military commanders, in which 
he was taking full account of winds, tides, 
fogs, and the movements of the enemy. On 
August 23, he wrote, "The flood tide will 
begin to make about eleven o'clock, at which 
time, if the detachment ordered yesterday 
were to move to the high and open grounds 
about Mr. Delancey's and Bloomingdale, 



Honor to George Washington 

they would be ready to come forward, or 
turn back, as occasion should require." 

On the same day Washington visited Long 
Island, and, as a result of his inspection, sent 
over four more regiments, with boats, ready 
to reinforce the Brooklyn lines or to return 
to New York, in case the British ships should 
stand in toward the city, a thing they had 
been unable to do, as the wind had been 
ahead, or too light, when the tide served. 
During the next three days the British ships 
fell down to the Narrows; and, from this 
fact and the disappearance of their tents 
from Staten Island, Washington concluded 
that their main effort would be made on 
Long Island. He therefore ordered consider- 
able reinforcements from New York, and 
informed Congress that he would continue 
to do so, as circumstances might require. 

General Greene had been in command on 
Long Island. He fell sick; and his illness 
caused oversights unknown to Washington, 
which led to a tactical reverse. The Ameri- 
can position, nearly a mile long, faced south- 
east, and ran from Gowanus Cove to Walla- 
bout Bay. It was strongly fortified. Two 
or three miles in advance, along Brooklyn 
Heights, the Americans had strong outposts. 
On August 27, General Howe made a skill- 
ful turning movement around the left of 
the American outpost line, and routed it. 
The American loss was about 1,000. But 
here the success ended. Howe has been 
severely criticised for not making a general 
assault upon the main American lines; but, 
having commanded the assaulting troops at 
Bunker Hill, he doubtless remembered how 
the British had twice fallen back from its 
bloody slopes. 

Washington committed no error in de- 
fending Long Island; but his temerity was 
not as great as it appears to us to-day. New 
York Harbor was not the deep basin that 
it is now; tidal currents, shallows, uncharted 
rocks, fogs, and adverse winds made it dif- 
ficult to handle sailing ships; and the Ameri- 
can soldier, in an intrenched position, had a 
prestige, after Bunker Hill, that has not been 
sufficiently recognized. These things were 
given due weight in the mind of Washing- 
ton, and they had their effect upon General 
Howe, who, after his unexpected success on 
August 27, settled down to the slow opera- 
tions of a siege. 

General Putnam was in command on 
Long Island. Washington was not present 
at the beginning, but he crossed over from 
Manhattan Island, during the battle, and 
did much to reorganize the American posi- 
tion. The next day he brought over more 
troops: but, early on the morning of the 
29th, he made up his mind that the troops 
must be removed from their exposed posi- 
tion. His skill in withdrawing an army by 
water from immediate contact with a pow- 
erful enemy has never been surpassed — not 

even by the British at Gallipoli, in 1915- 

Washington collected boats under the pre- 
tense of sending battalions to Long Island, 
and he issued a general order for the relief 
of a "proportionate number of regiments," 
and a change of positions. Everything was 
in readiness for this movement; each regi- 
ment thought it was one of the chosen regi- 
ments; and, in the night of August 29, 
Washington crossed to New York. A few 
heavy guns were left in position. The British 
wounded four men in one of the last boats to 
leave the shore. 

On September 15, Clinton's division, 
covered by the fire of British war vessels at 
musket range from the shore, crossed the 
East River in barges and landed at Kip's 
Bay (34th Street) , well above the New York 
City of that day. The garrison made a 
precipitate retreat to Washington's main po- 
sition in the upper part of the island. On 
the 16th, in a four-hour action, known as 
the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Ameri- 
cans drove the British a mile and a quarter 
from what is now 13 0th Street to 105th 
Street. This was a happy interlude in a 
long series of tragic reverses and retreats. 

than the true one — the futility of attacking 
American marksmen in intrenched posi- 
tions — have been assigned for Howe's fail- 
ure to bring the war to a conclusion at 
White Plains. 


On Halloween, Washington fell back upon 
Northcastle, where he took a position so 
strong it was useless to think of assailing 
him. Howe moved to Dobbs Ferry, on the 
east bank of the Hudson, where he could 
either attack Fort Washington, or cross into 
New Jersey and advance upon Philadelphia. 
To checkmate Howe, Washington moved 
5,000 men, under Putnam, to the vicinity 
of Hackensack, west of the Hudson; he 
sent General Heath, with 3,000 men, to 
Peekskill, where the narrowness of the Hud- 
son would enable batteries to guard the 
entrance to the Highlands; and he left Lee 
at Northcastle, east of the Hudson, with 
7,000 men, where he could cooperate with 
either Heath or Putnam. 

He wrote to General Greene, "I am . . . 
inclined to think, that it will not be prudent 
to hazard the Men and Stores at Mount 
Washington; but, as you are on the spot, 


At the northern end of Manhattan Island, 
the ascent of the Hudson was guarded, on 
the east, by Fort Washington, and, on the 
west, by Fort Lee, on the New Jersey shore. 
On October 9, two British frigates demon- 
strated the uselessness of the forts by run- 
ning between them. 

On October 12, Howe landed in West- 
chester County, New York. Washington 
evacuated his lines on Harlem Heights and 
moved to White Plains, where, on Octo- 
ber 22, he began to dig in with 13,000 men. 
On October 28, Howe came up to Wash- 
ington's position, at White Plains, and found 
the Americans intrenched, awaiting attack. 
He stormed a detached post at Chatterton 
Hill. The Americans, after inflicting a loss 
more than double their own, retreated to the 
main position. Howe remained several days 
before the American lines, and, finding no 
weak spot, declined to assault, and returned 
to Manhattan Island. Manv reasons, other 

leave it to you to give such orders, as to 
evacuating Mount Washington, as you may 
judge best." He himself repaired to Peeks- 
kill, to make sure that the British should 
not ascend the Hudson. Instead of evacu- 
ating, Greene threw useless reinforcements 
into the doomed fort. When Washington 
returned, it was too late to save the garri- 
son. On November 16, Howe captured 
Fort Washington, with nearly 3,000 prisoners 
and immense stores, inflicting on the Ameri- 
cans their greatest disaster in the war. 

REVOLUTION (1776-1777) 

The Commander in Chief still had 6,000 
men on the Jersey side of the river; on 
November 17, he ordered Lee to join him. 
Washington evacuated Fort Lee and began 
to retreat, followed by the British, who ad- 
vanced as rapidly as bad roads and lack of 
transportation permitted. On his retreat 
across New Jersey, Washington's army 

Washington the Military Man 


melted away rapidly. The state troops, 
whose time had expired, marched off in solid 
bodies. General Lee loitered and neglected 
frequent orders from Washington to rejoin. 
Not until December 2-3 did he cross the 
Hudson. On the 2nd, Washington, with 
3,000 ragged men, was at Princeton, with 
the British close upon his heels. As he re- 
treated toward the Delaware, his detach- 
ments gathered all boats for seventy miles 
along the river, for his own service and to 
deprive the enemy of their use. The little 
army crossed the Delaware on December 8. 

Congress voted not to leave Philadelphia, 
and then fled to Baltimore, on December 12, 
leaving Washington "full power to order and 
direct all things relative to the Department 
and to the operations of war." This was 
the first of several occasions when Congress 
conferred dictatorial powers upon the gen- 
eral. In the confident belief that Washing- 
ton was no longer dangerous, Howe sent 
Clinton, with 6,000 men, to seize Newport. 
Howe and Cornwallis returned to New 
York, a fact which Washington promptly 
learned from his secret service. Cornwallis 
prepared to go to England for the winter 
season. General James Grant promised to 
keep peace in New Jersey with "a corporal's 

Howe had pushed back Washington's 
force, but he had not defeated Washington. 
Throughout the retreat, Washington was 
seeking an opportunity to strike the enemy, 
whose forces were much scattered and living 
in fancied securitv. With 4,000 men, he 
was confronting 2 5,000. Fortunately for 
the American cause, the British captured the 
incompetent and insubordinate General Lee; 
and, on December 20, General Sullivan 

joined Washington with Lee's troops. Two 
days later a trusted spy, John Honeyman, 
brought information that enabled Washing- 
ton to plan a decisive blow. 

Washington was his own chief of secret 
service. Lie was adept in penetrating the 
enemy's designs and in concealing his own. 
He had several cipher codes; wrote letters 
with a view to their falling into the enemy's 
hands; gave out misleading information; and 
closely superintended his spy service. Never 
was he surprised; while surprise was an im- 
portant element in all his offensive opera- 
tions. He had not studied the ways of the 
fox and of the Indian in vain; and the 
British aptly called him the "Old Fox." 

Five days before Christmas, he wrote, "I 

have labored, ever since I have been in the 
service, to discourage all kinds of local at- 
tachments and distinctions of country, de- 
nominating the whole by the greater name of 
American." This was the keynote of his 
life. He was now to do things that would 
give that name a meaning. In a chance re- 
mark two years later he revealed his state 
of mind at this time, in what he called the 
"dark days of America." He stated that he 
was not despondent. His actions showed it. 
He had an unfathomable faith which was 
never daunted and which bore him up amidst 
manifold discouragements and difficulties. 


Contempt for the Americans had now 
reached the point where the enemy dispersed 
his troops, in order to take advantage of 
billeting facilities, and neglected to throw 
up intrenchments. East of the Delaware, 
Hessian commands were quartered in Tren- 
ton, Mount Holly, Black Horse, Burlington, 
and Bordentown. Washington planned to 
attack all these troops in their winter quar- 
ters the morning after Christmas. Five 
bodies of Americans were to take part, and 
three columns were to cross the Delaware 
and converge on Trenton. Washington ac- 
companied the column that had the longest 
march, after it crossed the river. Time- 
pieces were set by Washington's watch, and 
a zero hour fixed in the modern way. The 
surface of the Delaware was a mass of float- 
ing ice, and two of the column commanders 
concluded it would be impossible to cross. 
The night was bitter cold and a storm of 
sleet assailed the troops. All division com- 
manders failed except those who were with 
Washington; and one of these would have 
given up, if Washington had not been pres- 
ent. This commander sent word to Wash- 
ington that the firearms of the men were 
wet. "Tell General Sullivan," said Wash- 
ington, "to use the bayonet. I am resolved 
to take Trenton." 

More than ten hours were consumed in 


Honor to George Washington 

crossing the river, and the troops had to 
march nine miles, into a blinding storm of 
sleet and snow. An aide of General Gates, 
with a message of explanation and excuse 
from his chief, found his way to Washington 
by following the bloody tracks of the sol- 
diers. About 8 o'clock in the morning, a 
huge officer galloped up to a farmer chop- 
ping wood near Trenton, and inquired: 
"Can you tell me where the Hessian picket 
is?" The man hesitated. "You need not be 
frightened," said an aide, "it is General 
Washington who asks the question." 

The action was soon over. Twenty-two 
Hessians were killed. Washington reported 
"the number that submitted . . . was twenty- 
three officers and eight hundred and eighty- 
six men. . . . Our own loss is very trifling 
indeed, only two officers and one or two 
privates wounded." Lieutenant James Mon- 
roe, later President of the United States, 
and Captain William Washington were the 
wounded officers. Later reports increased 
the number of prisoners to about one 


Washington recrossed the Delaware with 
his prisoners. The troops at Burlington and 
Bordentown abandoned their sick and their 
heavy baggage and retreated to Princeton. 
Cornwallis was sent from New York to 
retrieve the disaster. Washington's army 
again crossed the Delaware into New Jersey 
on December 31, 1776. To retain his troops 
in service, he and his officers pledged their 
personal funds. On the evening of January 
2, 1777, with about 5,000 men, in a selected 
position on high ground outside of Trenton, 
on the southeast side of the Assanpink Creek, 
he confronted Cornwallis, who had an equal 
or greater force. Washington's object was 
to strike quick blows at the British detach- 
ments and supplies, while avoiding battle 
with their main forces. 

The situation was "most critical," as 
Washington himself said. Leaving his camp- 
fires burning, he slipped away to Princeton. 
About sunrise the next morning, Washing- 
ton met a British detachment. In two sharp, 
quick actions, he defeated the enemy, and 
captured 230 prisoners. When Washington 
looked about after the fight, most of his men 
were lying on the ground, fast asleep. He 
gave up his original purpose of capturing 
British treasure and stores at New Bruns- 
wick, because of the sheer exhaustion of his 
men. He had ordered all available troops to 
move toward Morristown to cooperate with 
his own forces. Thither he marched with 
his exhausted men. 

Before the end of the month he had re- 
covered all of New Jersey except three 
British posts at Paulus (Powles) Hook, Am- 
boy, and New Brunswick. Trenton and 
Princeton mark an epoch in the American 
Revolution. They revealed to the British 
the spirit and genius of the man with whom 
they had to deal. On Christmas Day, the 
Revolution was apparently near its end; 

within less than two weeks, the British were 
concentrating and preparing to defend them- 
selves in their winter quarters. 



By his victories and the spirit which they 
infused into the despairing people, Washing- 
ton saved the Revolution in its darkest hour. 
There were still many anxious days before 
the final triumph, but the tide of American 
disasters had passed its lowest ebb. Von 
Moltke, the great modern German strategist, 
says, "No finer movement was ever executed 
than the retreat across the Jerseys, the re- 
turn across the Delaware a first time, and 
then a second, so as to draw out the enemy 
in a long thin line." Horace Walpole pro- 
nounced Washington's march through the 
British lines "a prodigy of generalship." In 
London, the youthful Lafayette heard of 
Trenton and Princeton, and hastened his 
preparations to sail for America. 

Washington remained at Morristown from 
January 7 to May 28, 1777. Congress had 
already passed a law authorizing an army 
of 66,000 men, to be raised by quotas among 
the states. It had also authorized Washing- 
ton to raise, in the name of the United 
States, 12,000 infantry, 3,000 artillery, 
some light cavalry, and engineers. Under 
this authority Washington raised and organ- 
ized a new Continental Army, while at 


Washington's difficulty in maintaining his 
army arose from the weakness of the govern- 
ment behind him. Congress could fix the 
needed amount of revenue; but had to de- 
pend upon the states to collect the revenue. 
It could recognize a state of war; but had 
no power to enlist, arm, and support an 
army. It could give good advice; but could 
compel no one to accept that advice. Wash- 
ington fought the Revolution with an 
unpaid, half naked, starving army, which 
was disbanded at the close of the war and 
has never to this day been paid. Many of 
its members became a charge upon the com- 
munity. The bane of the service was short 
enlistments. The nation never fully over- 
came this defect until the World War, when 
troops were taken into the service for the 
duration of the war. 

The personal qualities of Washington 
made up for the weakness of the govern- 
ment behind him. No man could have been 
better formed for command. He was a well- 
proportioned, handsome man, six feet three 
and one-half inches in height. His shoul- 
ders were large, his chest was broad; and he 
possessed great physical strength, which, 
upon occasions, he did not hesitate to use. 
His mental qualities were in keeping with 
his physical perfection. In the larger affairs 
of statesmanship and strategy his vision was 
clear and unerring. He accepted responsi- 

bility with the equanimity of transcendent 


The plan of the British Ministry for 1777 
contemplated an invasion of New York, 
from Canada, by an army under Burgoyne, 
and the movement of Howe's forces up the 
Hudson to form a junction with him. 
Through an oversight, Howe received no in- 
structions to this effect. He himself de- 
sired to capture Philadelphia; and, in the 
absence of instructions, he pursued a course 
quite at variance with the British plan. 

Washington's problem was to prevent 
Howe both from taking possession of the 
Highlands of the Hudson and from captur- 
ing Philadelphia. On May 28, he took up 
a strong position with 8,000 men on the 
heights of Middlebrook, seven miles from the 
British position at New Brunswick. Howe, 
with 18,000 men, began his march on Phila- 
delphia on June 12, 1777. Washington's 
position was close to the flank of Howe's 
line of march. A campaign of 18 days 
followed. Howe could find no opening to 
attack Washington. Since he was unwilling 
to continue his march and leave Washington 
in his rear, he abandoned his plan on June 
30, and retired to Staten Island. 



News came of Burgoyne's advance, and 
Washington wrote, "If this proves to be 
any thing more than a diversion, there is 
no doubt General Howe will proceed up 
Hudsons River; for if they have ?ny 
rational end in view, it must be a junction 
of the two armies to intercept the com- 
munication between the Eastern and South- 
ern States, and will make it necessary for 
Howe and Carleton [Governor of Canada] 
to cooperate." He knew from his cam- 
paigns in the wilderness that Burgoyne's task 
was most difficult; he predicted its failure, 
and never lost faith in his prediction. He 
sent two of his best officers, Arnold and 
Morgan, to the Northern Army; and the 
capture of Burgoyne was made possible by 
the organized forces and the supplies which 
he provided. 

Washington took a position for a quick 
movement to oppose Howe's advance to aid 
Burgoyne. On July 23, Howe put to sea 
with 18,000 men, while he left 7,000 in 
New York, under General Clinton. Wash- 
ington set out for the Delaware, but moved 
with great circumspection, lest Howe should 
suddenly return and sail up the Hudson. 
On July 31, Washington learned that 
Howe's fleet had been seen the day before 
off the Delaware Capes, and had sailed away 
into the unknown. Early in August, La- 
fayette joined Washington's headquarters as 
a major general without a command. 

Washington the Military Man 



Washington had about decided to march 
against Burgoyne, when news came that 
Howe had entered the Chesapeake; and 
Washington marched toward Philadelphia. 
Howe landed at Elkton, on August 23. 
Washington took up a strong defensive 
position at the Brandywine. Howe had a 
superiority in numbers of about three to 
two; but both friends and foes believed that 
Washington's army was greater than Howe's. 
Washington encouraged this belief, "be- 
c.uise," he said, "next to being strong, it is 
best to be thought so by the enemy." In 
going over the ground he pointed out to 
Greene a good second position near Dilworth, 
if the Americans should be obliged to fall 

Howe drove back the American right 
flank on September 11. Washington ordered 
Greene to occupy the Dilworth position, 
where he held the enemy until nightfall. 
To Congress, which suggested that Wash- 
ington send continental soldiers to work on 
batteries to prevent British ships from 
ascending the Delaware River to Philadel- 
phia, he replied, "If we should be able to 
oppose General Howe with success in the 
Field, the works will be unnecessary; If not, 
and he should force us from hence, he will 
certainly possess himself of 'em." Like 
Napoleon, he would not permit himself to 
be besieged. He had not forgotten Fort 
Necessity. When he could not hold a place 
without being shut up in it, he retreated; 
and never was he more dangerous than when 
his case seemed most desperate. He had 
abandoned New York; and, when it was 
impossible to hold Philadelphia, he allowed 
Howe to take possession on September 2 5, 

After the battle of the Brandywine, the 
British never again took the offensive against 
Washington. Hard battles were fought; but 

he was always the attacker. He had a sure 
eye for ground. He occupied strong de- 
fensive positions, which confined the British 
to the cities that they held. The British 
would come out, reconnoiter his position, 
and then retire. When it suited him, he 


Washington now prepared to make his 
first attack on the main body of the enemy, 
with all his forces. At the Brandywine he 
had kept a reserve, for an emergency, as is 
necessary in defensive battles; but when he 
took the offensive, he attacked with every 
available man. He aimed to capture or 
destroy the British army. On October 4, 
Washington attacked the British in German- 
town, after a 14-mile night march. An 
element of surprise came from the fact that 
the British did not dream his army could 
possibly take the offensive. 

It was a bold, well-planned effort to 
destroy the British army, which all but suc- 
ceeded. When the attack failed, Washing- 
ton slowly retired to Pennibecker's Mill, 
twenty miles from Germantown. The 
American loss was 672; the British 537. 
With good reason, Congress thanked Wash- 
ington for his "wise and well concerted at- 


Honor to George Washington 

tack." The quick recovery of his army 
after its defeat at the Brandywine, and its 
spirited attack at Germantown, also im- 
pressed the French Cabinet that there was 
good fighting material in the American 
Army, and bold and skillful leadership. 
Hence, the Battle of Germantown was not 
less influential than the surrender of Bur- 
goyne at Saratoga (October 17) in bringing 
on the French alliance in 1778. 

Early in December, Howe spent three 
days in examining Washington's position at 
Whitemarsh, 14 miles from Philadelphia. 
He then put his troops into winter quarters 
in Philadelphia, and Washington moved into 
winter quarters at Valley Forge, 23 miles 
northwest of Philadelphia. 

At the close of the year 1777, the British 
held only the seaports of New York, Phila- 

delphia, and Newport. The patriots con- 
trolled the rest of the country. For the 
British it was a fatal error to adopt a policy 
of capturing and holding the imoortant 
cities. Every city thus captured weakened 
their army by the strength of its garrison. 
When Dr. Franklin was told in Paris that 
Howe had taken Philadelphia, he replied that 
Philadelphia had taken Howe. 

Part III 

Valley Forge and Afterward 



If Washington could have used his discre- 
tion about calling upon the Northern Army 
for reinforcements after the surrender of 
Burgoyne, Howe's position in Philadelphia 
would have been very precarious; but Con- 
gress voted that Washington could not recall 
more than 2,500 men, including Morgan's 
corps. Congress had begun to fear its popu- 
lar general. Congress feared not only Wash- 
ington, but the army itself. It was the 
critical season of the Conway Cabal, of the 
French Alliance, of the coming of Baron 
Steuben, and of Valley Forge. 

The term "Conway Cabal" refers to a 
scheme for superseding Washington by Gen- 
eral Gates, to whom Burgoyne had surren- 
dered. The conspirators employed the low- 
est form of anonymous slander. Conway 
was a soldier of fortune from the French 
service. At the first breath of exposure the 
conspirators fled to cover, leaving Conway 
the scapegoat. They had succeeded in hav- 
ing Congress interfere with the system of 
control of the army; and the supply depart- 
ment, as a result, broke down. Hence 
Valley Forge became the supreme test of 
fortitude of the American Army. 

No better description of the miseries of 
that winter can be found than the words of 
Washington himself. "To see men," said 
he, "without clothes to cover their naked- 
ness, without blankets to lie on, without 
shoes, by which their marches might be 
traced by the blood from their feet, and 
almost as often without provisions as with 
them, marching through the frost and snow, 
and at Christmas taking up their winter 
quarters within a day's march of the enemy, 
without a house or hut to cover them till 
they could be built, and submitting to it 
without a murmur, is a proof of patience 
and obedience which, in my opinion, can 
scarcely be paralleled." Yet Washington 
was always hopeful. In the midst of the 
Conway Cabal, he wrote to Lafayette: "I 

have no doubt that everything happens for 
the best, that we shall triumph over all 
our misfortunes and in the end be happy; 
when, my dear Marquis, if you will give 
me your company in Virginia, we will laugh 
at our present difficulties and the folly of 


Whilst Washington, in his camp at Valley 
Forge, watched the British army in Phila- 
delphia, two things happened which had a 
powerful effect in aiding the Americans to 
achieve their liberty: the signing of a treaty 
of alliance with France, and the arrival of 
Baron von Steuben at Washington's head- 

Steuben had formerly served on the per- 
sonal staff of Frederick the Great, and, en- 
couraged by the French Minister of War, 
had come to America to offer his services to 
the American Army. He turned the deso- 
late camp into a training school and taught 
the troops what they had never known be- 
fore, precision in the technique of war, the 
use of the bayonet, the mastery of the 
charge. Neither Washington nor any of his 
officers, native or foreign, had known how 
to give this kind of training. Following 
the English custom, American officers did 
not instruct their men. They thought their 
duty consisted in mounting guard and lead- 
ing their commands when going into action. 
The English system depended upon the 
existence of a permanent corps of non- 
commissioned officers. Washington had been 
unable to build up such a corps out of the 
rapidly changing personnel of his army. 

The successes of the army prior to Vallev 
Forge were due, not to the superiority of 
the troops, but to the skill of the general. 
The cause of the reverses had been the lack 
of discipline and training. Washington was 
thoroughly alive to the situation and he was 
on the lookout for competent instructors. 
At this time, the state of discipline, train- 
ing, organization, and equipment in the 
American Army was deplorable. 


Washington asked Steuben to make plans 
to correct the manifold abuses in the army. 
Steuben had the aid of three officers of great 
ability, General Greene and Lieutenant 
Colonels John Laurens and Alexander Ham- 
ilton. It was difficult to form a plan which 
would not excite so much opposition 
amongst the officers and men as to frustrate 
it before its merits became manifest to all. 
Steuben proposed that an inspector general 
be appointed, who should establish uniform 
formations, manoeuvres, and exercises, a 
regular system of accounting for money and 
property, and uniform records for all units, 
and who should define the duties of every 

Washington approved the plan and re- 
quested Steuben to assume the duties of in- 
spector general and carry the reforms into 
effect. Steuben began operation by drafting 
120 men from the line, whom he formed 
into a guard for the general in chief. He 
made this guard his military school. He 
drilled it twice a day; and, to remove the 
English and American prejudice that to drill 
the troops was a sergeant's duty, beneath the 
station of an officer, he took a musket and 
showed the men the manual of arms. 

His example was contagious; and Valley 
Forge became a great training camp, where 
the American officers, for the first time, be- 
came the instructors of their men. He ap- 
pointed inspectors for each division, and all 
his inspectors were present at each drill. In 
two weeks, his company had a military air 
and knew how to bear arms, to form 
column, deploy, and execute small manoeu- 
vres and exercises. The men were well 
dressed, their arms were clean and in good 
order, and their general appearance was quite 
respectable. He paraded them before all the 
officers and gave them an opportunity to 
exhibit what they knew. Having demon- 
strated his method of drill, Steuben dispersed 
the inspectors, and his doctrines were 
adopted throughout the army. He applied 

Washington the Military Man 


his system to battalions, to brigades, and, 
in a short time, he manoeuvred entire divi- 
sions in the presence of the commander in 

When the officers grasped the importance 
of Steuben's work and realized that their 
earlier defeats had been due to their inability 
to match themselves with the well-trained 
British, a remarkable change came over the 
army. A generous but spirited rivalry set 
in between organizations to make the best 
appearance and exhibit the greatest effi- 
ciency; and the spirit of military discipline 
soon pervaded the entire force. By April, 
1778, the general officers were writing their 
friends in the other armies, recounting the 
wonderful transformation wrought by 


It was truly a great accomplishment. 
Steuben had arrived at headquarters at the 
end of February, knowing almost no Eng- 
lish. Acting at first largely through inter- 
preters, and then speaking a jargon of Eng- 
lish, German, and French, which greatly 
amused the officers and men, he had intro- 
duced a strict form of discipline amongst 
men who had extreme ideas about freedom 
and personal liberty. While the soldiers 
laughed at the funny incidents, they did 
their best to obey orders. Steuben soon 
found he had to deal with a type of man 
entirely different from that which he had 
known in Europe. "You say to your soldier, 
'do this,' and he doeth it," Steuben wrote to 
an old comrade in Prussia; "I am obliged 
to say to mine, 'this is the reason why you 
ought to do it,' and then he doeth it." 

The Revolution may be divided into two 
sharply contrasting periods: that which pre- 
ceded the coming of Steuben, and that which 
followed. Faithful histories of the Revolu- 
tion are filled with tirades upon the cow- 
ardice and utter worthlessness of the men 
that filled the ranks of our revolutionary 
armies. But the source material for these 
estimates comes from the period prior to 
the coming of Steuben. When Clinton 
landed at Kip's Bay, in 1776, and the Ameri- 
cans ran, Washington belabored the panicky 
soldiers, and even a brigadier general, with 
his sword. Now, when these same men had 
learned to act together and could depend 
upon one another, they became heroes; and 
nothing more was heard about the "pusillani- 
mous wretches." As a result of Steuben's 
training, they were, man for man, a match 
for the best British troops. 

On May 6, 1778, when "May breezes had 
begun to blow through the lovely groves 
in which the army was encamped," the 
entire force was turned out to celebrate the 
news of the French Alliance, which had been 
signed on February 6, 1778. War between 
England and France resulted from the al- 
liance, but there was no formal declaration. 


O 1 1, I i I 


It was a valiant, well-drilled, and highly 
disciplined army that issued from Valley 
Forge when good weather made campaign- 
ing practicable. In June, 1778, the Ameri- 
cans broke camp and pursued the British, 
who had evacuated Philadelphia and were re- 
treating across New Jersey. Then, for the 
first time, Washington had a real army in 
the field. He appreciated the change that 
had been wrought in the army. He had 
attained what was probably the greatest 
hope of his life. He now had an army that 
was more than equal to the enemy in a 
pitched battle. Unfortunately, few of his 
general officers had been able to cast off the 
feeling of inferiority. They were still 
unwilling to come to grips with the British 
army in the open field. Councils of officers 
urged that the army should avoid a general 

Washington was determined to fight. His 
army numbered 15,000 men, all trained by 
Steuben and all anxious to show their effi- 
ciency. Washington therefore attacked the 
British on June 28, at Monmouth Court 
House; but, in the midst of the battle, 
General Charles Lee, through treachery or 
cowardice, gave orders which confused the 
Americans and caused them to retreat. 
Washington rebuked Lee, sent him to the 
rear, and ordered Steuben to rally the fleeing 
troops. When Steuben rode up to the fugi- 
tives and shouted out a few commands, they 
"wheeled in the line with as much precision 
as on an ordinary parade." Alexander Ham- 
ilton, as witness of these events, declared 
that for the first time he appreciated the 
overwhelming importance of military train- 
ing and discipline. Washington took charge 
of the troops himself and rode his great 
white charger until it collapsed and died. 
He then mounted his "chestnut blood mare 
with long mane and tail." Lafayette said 
of Washington at Monmouth, "I never be- 
held so superb a man." 

Late in the day, Clinton yielded the field 
and fell back to a strong position where his 
flanks were protected by natural obstacles. 
Washington prepared to attack, but before 
the troops were ready, night had fallen. 

Clinton stole away at night, leaving Wash- 
ington to bury his dead. 

The Americans had now learned how to 
fight in the open, to manoeuvre under fire, 
and to display the heroism en masse which 
discipline alone can give. Henceforth 
Washington no longer feared to meet the 
British in the open field; and they recog- 
nized his superior strength and his superior 
military genius, for they never again gave 
him the opportunity. 

In July, Washington established his army, 
for the second time, at White Plains, ready 
for a combined sea and land assault on New 
York. With just pride, he noted that "after 
two years manoeuvring and undergoing the 
strangest vicissitudes, that perhaps ever at- 
tended any one contest since the creation, 
both armies are brought back to the very 
point they set out from, and that which was 
the offending party in the beginning is now 
reduced to the use of the spade and pickaxe 
for defense." 


A French fleet, under Count d'Estaing, 
arrived on July 8, bringing M. Gerard, the 
first minister from France to the United 
States, and a landing force of 4,000 men. 
Washington was anxious to attack New 
York in concert with the French fleet, but 
the draft of the large French vessels was too 
great for them to pass over the bar into 
the harbor. 

In August, the French fleet, in conjunc- 
tion with an American force under Sullivan, 
moved against Newport. Sullivan had es- 
tablished himself on Rhode Island (the 
island of that name) when a British fleet, 
under Admiral Howe, appeared in the offing. 
The two fleets had manoeuvred two days for 
advantage of position, when a West Indian 
hurricane, coming up the coast, scattered 
them. D'Estaing sailed for Boston to refit; 
and the expedition against Newport was 
abandoned by the Americans in disgust. 
Much bitter criticism followed. It required 
all of Washington's tact to preserve harmony 
between the allies. 

Henceforth, Washington's most difficult 
task was to control the criticising tongues 


Honor to George Washington 

and pens of his own people. He had long 
since emancipated himself from the feeling 
of inferiority to Europeans then prevalent 
among Americans; but he never lost sight 
of the value of the French alliance to 
America. In his relations with the French, 
Lafayette was always a most helpful and 
loyal coadjutor. The French heard the 
clamorous voice of the multitude; but they 
listened only to the wise and conciliatory 
words of Washington. 

After the Rhode Island campaign, no 
further operations took place in the north 
which can properly be called a campaign. 
Henceforth, the British were confined in 
that region to predatory operations. At the 
end of the year all that they held in the 
territory of the new United States was New 
York, Newport, and Savannah. Washing- 
ton disposed his troops for winter in lines 
extending from Danbury, Connecticut, to 
New Jersey. His headquarters were near 
Middlebrook. Early in the war, Washington 
saw that, if the British could establish them- 
selves upon the Hudson River by seizing 
New York and the Highlands about Peeks- 
kill, they would be able to sever communi- 
cations between New England, the great 
center of wealth, industry, population, and 
resistance, and the southern colonies, and 
bring the Revolution to a close. He never 
lost sight of the necessity of holding the 
Highlands and of watching the British in 
New York. He was ready to go elsewhere, 
if some great opportunity should offer; but, 
until then, he hovered around the main 
British force in New York. 


1779 i/£/?p<./>A/cwir\«5! 


H V, D S O X 

E I V E R 


The British had seized and fortified Stony 
Point, on the west bank of the Hudson, 
below West Point; and Washington deter- 
mined to retake it. "Secrecy," wrote Wash- 
ington to Wayne, to whom he had entrusted 
the task, "is so much more essential . . . 
than numbers, that I should not think it 
advisable to employ any other than the light 
troops. If a surprize takes place, they are 
fully competent to the business; if it does 
not, numbers will avail little." On the 
night of July 15, 1779, Wayne's command 
stormed the works at Stony Point, with 
unloaded muskets, and took them at the 
point of the bayonet. The British lost 63 
killed and 542 prisoners. 

Not long after, Major Henry Lee exe- 
cuted a similar exploit against Paulus 
(Powles) Hook, within cannon shot of New 
York City. "The usual time for exploits 
of this kind," wrote Washington to Lee, 
"is a little before day, for which reason a 
vigilant officer is then more on the watch. 
I therefore recommend a midnight hour." 
Early in the morning of August 19, Lee 
stormed Paulus Hook. The alarm guns 
were booming in New York and dawn was 
breaking when he escaped with his prison- 
ers. Washington's menacing attitude to- 
ward New York caused Clinton to evacuate 
Rhode Island in order to strengthen the 
garrison in New York. At the close of 
1779, the British held nothing in the United 
States except New York and Savannah. 

Washington's army spent the winter of 
1779-80 at Morristown. The hardships en- 
dured by the troops far exceeded those at 
Valley Forge; but Washington now com- 
manded a disciplined army; and history has 
little to say of the sufferings at Morristown. 
Amidst all the suffering, there was a tone 
of gayety. Never was there any enforced 
sadness about the American camps. Wash- 
ington remained constantly with his troops. 
"To share the common lot," said he, "and 
participate in the inconveniences, which the 
army, from the peculiarity of our circum- 
stances, are obliged to undergo, has with me 
been a fundamental ideal." 


In December, 1779, Sir Henry Clinton 
and Lord Cornwallis sailed for Savannah. 
Early in 1780, they advanced with an over- 
whelming force upon Charleston. The gov- 
ernment of South Carolina demanded that 
Charleston be defended. Washington learned 
with dismay that General Lincoln was col- 
lecting his whole force, for the defense cf 

Charleston. "I have the greatest reliance on 
General Lincoln's prudence," said he, "but 
I cannot forbear dreading the event." Lin- 
coln allowed himself to be trapped in the 
city, instead of evacuating it when he could 
no longer defend it. He surrendered 
Charleston, May 12, 1780, with 6,000 men. 
The continental troops, 3,000 in number, 
were held as prisoners, while the militia was 
allowed to go home on parole. Clinton re- 
turned to New York, leaving Cornwallis, 
with 5,000 men, to maintain and extend the 
British conquest. 

Congress appointed General Gates to com- 
mand the Southern Army, without consult- 
ing Washington, and made Gates independ- 
ent of the commander in chief. With 

3,000 men, Gates marched toward Camden, 
South Carolina, where, on August 16, 1780, 
he was utterly defeated by Cornwallis. This 
was the second American army wiped out of 
existence in the southern states within three 
months. It was the most complete defeat 
ever inflicted upon an American army. 

When news came of the disaster at Cam- 
den, Congress allowed Washington to choose 
a successor to Gates. Washington selected 
Greene and Steuben to go south. Steuben 
remained in Virginia to collect men and 

Washington the Military Man 



means and send them to Greene in the Caro- 
linas. Congress wisely made Greene subject 
to the control of the commander in chief. 
Greene took command at Charlotte, Decem- 
ber 2, 1780. Preceding this, the frontier 
battle of Kings Mountain had checked Corn- 
wallis's advance. 

On January 17, 1781, General Daniel 
Morgan practically destroyed Tarleton's 
British corps, at the Cowpens, in South 
Carolina, near the North Carolina line. 
Morgan joined Greene, who retreated across 
North Carolina, closely pursued by Corn- 
wallis. Greene escaped across the Dan 
River into Virginia. The moment Corn- 
wallis ceased the pursuit and turned away, 
Greene recrossed the Dan and hovered about 
the rear of Cornwallis. On March 15, the 
two armies met at Guilford Court House. 
Cornwallis was tactically victorious; but his 
losses were so severe that he retired to Flills- 
boro and then to Wilmington, to refit and 
prepare to carry the war into Virginia. 
Greene boldly moved southward towards 
Camden and Charleston. 

Late in April, Cornwallis left Wilmington 
and, on May 20, reached Petersburg, Vir- 
ginia, where he joined 2,000 British troops, 
that had been sent from New York to estab- 
lish a British base in that state. He over- 
ran Virginia as far north as Fredericksburg; 
but he was harassed by an American force 
under Lafayette, whom he was unable to 
bring to battle. Early in August, 1781, he 
retired to Yorktown to refit his forces and 
await developments. Fate was preparing a 
dramatic ending to his campaigns in Amer- 
ica. He had been lured into Virginia, where 
he was within reach of superior French and 
American forces under the personal com- 
mand of Washington. 

Early in May, 1780, Rochambeau had 
sailed from Brest with 5,500 men. On July 
10, he arrived off Rhode Island. "My 
Master's orders," wrote he to Washington, 
"place me at the disposal of your Excel- 
lency. I have arrived full of submission 

and zeal and of veneration for yourself and 
for the talents you have shown in sustaining 
a war that will be forever memorable." 


Whilst the French were subject to his 
orders, Washington knew, as he wrote to 
Lafayette, that his authority was nominal; 
and that he must exercise it with discretion. 
Almost a year elapsed before the French 
army took part in the war. Washington 
wished to use it for some decisive stroke 
that would end the conflict; and he had no 
desire to impose any losses upon it except 
for this purpose. 

Washington's army spent the summer of 
1780 in camp at Orangetown (Tappan). 
He planned a surprise assault on New York 
for the night of November 24, 1780, while 
en route to winter quarters, for which he 
had boats on wheels for a quick embarka- 
tion. British ships accidentally blocked the 
way, and he moved into winter quarters at 
New Windsor, near West Point. 

On March 9, 1781, news arrived that a 
fleet, under the Comte de Grasse, was or- 
dered to the West Indies, with instructions 
to sail to the coast of North America later 
in the year for joint operations against the 
British. Six million francs were promised, 
not as a loan, but as a gift, to be placed at 
Washington's disposal. Later in the year, 
the French government guaranteed an 
American loan of ten million francs from 
Holland. This financial aid enabled Wash- 
ington's army to undertake the Yorktown 

On May 22, 1781, Washington had an 
interview with Rochambeau at Weathers- 
field, and it was agreed that the French 
army should join Washington for combined 
operations, depending upon the presence of 
the French fleet. On June 10, the French 
broke camp at Newport. The army was 
taken by water to Providence, and then 
marched westward. Rochambeau joined 

Washington at White Plains and the two 
armies were united for the campaign of 
1781. The French were astonished at the 
manner in which the Americans marched. 
Perfect order and perfect silence reigned. 
An American regiment was sent to capture 
a redoubt. It marched under the fire of 
cannon in admirable style. 

A plan determined by Washington, 
"nearly twelve months before," contem- 
plated an attack upon the British forces in 
Virginia or in South Carolina, as circum- 
stances should dictate, in the summer of 
1781. To deceive the enemy, it was neces- 
sary for Washington to delude his own army, 
the people, the state governments, and even 
Congress itself, which asked no questions. 
Extensive preparations were actually made 
to attack New York; and Washington's cor- 
respondence in the year 1781 has misled 
historians to the present day into the be- 
lief that he was obstinate in his desire to 
make this attack. His real intentions are 
disclosed in a letter to Noah Webster, dated 
July 31, 1788. 

On August 14, he received a letter from 
Barras, stating that on the 13 th of August 
de Grasse would sail for the Chesapeake 
with 3,000 soldiers, borrowed from the 
French general commanding in Santo Do- 
mingo. On October 15, he must start back 
to the West Indies, in order to return the 
borrowed soldiers. "Employ me promptly 
and usefully that time may be turned to 
profit," said de Grasse. There was no time 
to lose. De Grasse would probably reach 
the Chesapeake before the allied army from 
New York. 


History teaches that every allied army 
should have a commander subject to the 
orders of a commander in chief, who, him- 
self, should not be an army commander. 
But Washington commanded his own army 
and, at the same time, secured the most 
loyal support and obedience from Rocham- 
beau, who commanded the French army, 
and the loyal cooperation of two admirals 
commanding French fleets. Nothing is more 
difficult in war than to command allied 
forces in joint operations. Washington did 
it so well that we often overlook the fact 
that he furnishes the most successful in- 
stance in history of the exercise of such a 

Washington's first marches were designed 
to impress friend and foe alike that he in- 
tended to attack New York. The task of 
deceiving Clinton was facilitated by the 
fact that the British had captured several 
of Washington's letters, in which his desire 
to attack New York was convincingly dis- 
closed. The sheer audacity of the move- 
ment served to screen its true meaning. The 
skill with which the Roman Consul Nero 
left the presence of Hannibal in south Italy, 
to join the forces confronting Hasdrubal 
in central Italy, and the deftness with which 
Robert E. Lee slipped away from McClel- 


Honor to George Washington 

lan's army, near Richmond, to fight Pope, 
near Washington, in 1862, did not exceed 
the address displayed by Washington in de- 
ceiving Sir Henry Clinton. 

Washington and Rochambeau took south- 
ward 2,000 Continentals and 4,000 French- 
men. The army crossed the Hudson at 
King's Ferry and began its march on Au- 
gust 19. The weather was fine and the sight 
most inspiring and impressive. The column 
was nearly two miles long. First came the 
Americans, in their ragged regimentals that 
told the story of extreme poverty and many 
campaigns; then followed the French in 
gorgeous new uniforms. On August 27, 
the French officers were still debating 

and Rochambeau came with an allied army 
from New York. De Grasse was the first to 
arrive, on August 28. He entered the James 
River and landed his military forces on 
Jamestown Island. A British fleet appeared. 
There was a naval battle in which the French 
gained the advantage; and the British sailed 
away. On September 9, Barras appeared 
with his fleet, which assured French naval 
superiority. On the 14th, Washington and 
Rochambeau arrived, and a royal salute was 
fired as the generals approached. They 
visited de Grasse on his flagship at Cape 
Henry, and concerted plans for combined 
operations. De Grasse took station with the 
main fleet in Lynnhaven Bay. 

Siege of Y'orktown 

Washington's Quarters 

whether Staten Island were the objective. 
However, the army left Trenton on Sep- 
tember 1, and arrived at the head of the 
Chesapeake on the 5 th, whence it was con- 
veyed in ships to the vicinity of Yorktown. 
Washington and Rochambeau rode through 
Virginia, making 60 miles a day, and paid 
a visit to Mount Vernon, which Washington 
had not seen since 1775. 


It was remarkable concentration. La- 
fayette, with 5,000 American soldiers, was 
already facing Cornwallis. De Grasse came 
with one fleet and 3,000 soldiers from the 
West Indies. Barras came from Rhode 
Island with another fleet; and Washington 

On October 19, 1781, after a siege of 21 
days, Cornwallis surrendered his forces, 
which numbered 7,157 men, to the allied 
army of 15,000, approximately half French 
and half American. Without the aid of the 
French fleet and the French army, the cap- 
ture of Cornwallis would have been impos- 
sible. On board the French fleet there were, 
in addition, 24,000 seamen, but this force 
was matched potentially against British naval 
forces, which were operating in near-by 
waters, and is scarcely to be reckoned as 
part of the besieging force. 

Whenever Washington took the offensive, 
he aimed at a victory that would end the 
war. At Trenton his success was dazzling. 
That he did not attain all that he had 
planned came from the fact that the war 

had not yet developed leaders equal to the 
task of carrying out his ideas. If he had 
been successful at Germantown, his victory, 
taken in connection with Burgoyne's sur- 
render, would undoubtedly have brought the 
war to an early close. At Monmouth, he 
failed to get decisive results because of the 
treachery or cowardice of the officer second 
in rank in the army. Complete success 
came at last to crown his efforts at York- 


In its consequences, the defeat at York- 
town was the most momentous ever suffered 
by an army of Imperial Britain. It put an 
end to the Revolutionary War. Away up in 
the mountains of Virginia, the aged Lord 
Fairfax, now in his ninetieth year, heard the 
news of the surrender. "It is time for me 
to die," said he; and he took to his bed. 
Few victories in history have had the far- 
reaching and enduring effect of Yorktown. 
The battle of Actium, which settled the 
form of the Roman State for five centuries, 
can, perhaps, alone be compared with it. 
The assurance of all that America stands 
for can be traced to the physical and moral 
forces operating at Yorktown. There Gen- 
eral George Washington was the guiding 
genius. His greatness as a general is beyond 

Washington desired to follow up the cap- 
ture of Cornwallis by a combined move- 
ment of the allied forces against Charleston; 
but de Grasse had to return to the West 
Indies, and Washington's army went back 
to its old camps on the Hudson. After the 
surrender, Rochambeau went into winter 
quarters near Williamsburg. In June, 1782, 
he started northward on a leisurely march. 
He reached the Hudson in September and 
arrived in Rhode Island in November. On 
December 24, 1782, the French army sailed 
from Boston for the West Indies, except the 
legion of Lauzun, which remained in 
America until May, 1783. 

In his relations with the French military 
and naval commanders, Washington showed 
himself to be a diplomatist of the highest 
order. In his correspondence, he displayed a 
courtesy, a simple dignity, and an incompa- 
rable ability to turn a sentence in such a 
way as to secure the end in view. 

Preliminary articles of peace were signed 
on November 30, 1782; but there was no 
armistice, and Washington passed one more 
winter with his army on the Hudson. A 
definitive treaty of peace was signed on 
September 3, 1783. The British evacuated 
New York on November 25. Washington 
returned his commission to Congress in a 
memorable scene in the State House in An- 
napolis on December 23, and retired once 
more into private life at Mount Vernon, 
where he arrived on Christmas eve. 

Washington the Military Man 



Washington's military service did not end 
with the Revolution. In 1794, in his second 
administration as President, the so-called 
Whiskey Rebellion occurred in western 
Pennsylvania. Seven thousand rebels gath- 
ered in arms. Washington assembled an 
army of 15,000 militia under the command 
of General Henry Lee. The existence of 
the national government was at stake. The 
President accompanied the army, ready to 
assume command, if necessary, until all pos- 
sibility of a serious conflict vanished. It 
lies with the President, as constitutional 
commander in chief, whether he shall com- 
mand in person any part of the land or 
naval forces. Washington set a precedent 
which has not been followed by any later 

In 1798, when we were at war with the 
French on the sea and our navy was making 
prizes of French men-of-war, Washington 
was called once more to command the army. 
Congress created the rank of lieutenant 
general for him, and he was duly commis- 
sioned. Later, Congress revived the rank 
of general, which he had held throughout 
the Revolution; but his death came before 
he was again commissioned as general. 


On December 21, 1799, the New York 
newspapers announced the death of Lieu- 
tenant General George Washington. One of 
them truly prophesied "that in every quar- 
ter of the globe, where a free government 
is ranked amongst the choicest blessings of 
Providence, and virtue, morality, religion, 
and patriotism are respected, the name of 
Washington will be held in veneration." 
When the news reached Europe, the white 
ensigns of the British fleet, blockading the 

port of Brest, were lowered to half-mast, 
the armies of France wore badges of mourn- 
ing, and Bonaparte, First Consul of France, 
attended a service in memory of Washington. 

He had ' the infinite respect of friends 
and enemies. In all the voluminous corre- 
spondence of the aristocratic French officers 
in Rochambeau's army, no word of criticism 
of Washington can be found, only respect 
and love and admiration. Many years after 
the war, when Lord Cornwallis was Gover- 
nor General of India, he sent a verbal mes- 
sage to his old antagonist, General Washing- 
ton, wishing him "a long enjoyment of 
tranquillity and happiness," but adding that, 
for himself, he "continued in troubled 

His popularity in the villages and in the 
country was touching to behold. On a jour- 
ney through Connecticut, returning from a 
conference with Rochambeau, he arrived at 
a village after nightfall. The people turned 
out in mass, the children bearing torches; 
the men and women pressed about him to 
touch his garments. Turning to young 
Count Dumas, who has left an account of 
the journey, he said: "We may be beaten 
by the English; it is the chance of war; 
but there is the army they will never 

He was fond of cards, dancing, and plays. 
He was an agreeable companion and de- 
lighted in anecdotes and tales of adventure; 
but he was always silent about his personal 
exploits, though few men have ever led a 
more adventurous life than he. He was 
jocular in the presence of danger. On the 
memorable night at Trenton, in crossing the 
icy waters of the Delaware, whilst the fate 
of the nation depended upon his success or 
failure, he turned to General Knox with a 
joke that relieved the tension and put all 
about him in good humor. 


The United States was made independent 
by the military genius of Washington. His 
greatest problem was to maintain an army 
in the field. He succeeded, in spite of the 
greatest difficulties and under the most dis- 
couraging circumstances, and thereby ap- 
proved himself worthy to be ranked among 
the great commanders. 

Washington, like Napoleon, never allowed 
himself to be besieged in any city, town, or 
village. His cardinal doctrine was that the 
Revolution depended upon the existence of 
his army, not upon the possession of any 
particular geographical spot. A nation's 
capital and many of its important cities may 
fall; but, if its forces remain in the field, 
they may be victorious in the end. This 
was the guiding principle which Washington 
followed in his conduct of the War of the 

A compilation of military maxims as 
profound, incisive, and trenchant as those 
of Napoleon could be produced by selecting 
passages from the orders and writings of 
Washington. We think of him as wise and 
prudent; but he was also daring and could 
strike quick and hard, as he demonstrated 
at Trenton, Princeton, Germantown, Mon- 
mouth, and Yorktown. His military fame 
has been overshadowed by his eminence in 
other fields. Had he died at the close of 
the Revolution, with his military achieve- 
ments standing alone in bold relief, he would 
to-day be honored as one of the world's 
greatest captains, as he is honored as one of 
the world's greatest statesmen. He was 
bolder than Alexander, more crafty than 
Hannibal, wiser than Caesar, more prudent 
than Gustavus Adolphus, more resourceful 
than Frederick, more sagacious than Na- 
poleon, and more successful than Scipio; 
and his star will not pale by the side of 

Selected Authorities 

Avery, Elroy McKendree — History of the 
United States and its People. Vols. IV- 
VI. Cleveland, Burrows, 1908-09. (Espe- 
cially the maps and illustrations.) 

Carrington, Henry B. — Washington the 
Soldier. New York, Scribner, 1899. 

Carter, George H. — Proceedings upon the 
Unveiling of the Statue of Baron von 
Steuben. Washington, Government Print- 
ing Office, 1914. 

Cronau, Rudolf — Army of the American 
Revolution. New York, Cronau, 1923. 

Dumas, Mathieu, Count — Memoirs of his 
Own Times. 2 vols. Philadelphia, Lea 
& Blanchard, 1839. 

Fiske, John — American Revolution. 2 vols. 
Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1891. 

Fitzpatrick, John C. — Spirit of the Revo- 
lution. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1924. 

Ford, Paul Leicester — True George Wash- 
ington. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1896. 
(Especially ch. xi.) 

Fortescue, Sir John William — History 
of the British Army. Vols. II, III. New 
York, Macmillan, 1899-1902. 

Frothingham, Thomas G. — Washington, 
Commander in Chief. Boston, Houghton 
Mifflin, 1930. 

Ganoe, William Addleman — History of 
the United States Army. New York, 
Appleton, 1924. (Especially chs. i-iv.) 

Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. — American 
History told by Contemporaries. Vol. II. 
New York, Macmillan, 1898. 

Johnson, Bradley T. — General Washing- 
ton. New York, Appleton, 1894. 

Johnston, Henry P. — Yorktown Cam- 
paign. New York, Harper, 1881. 

Kapp, Friedrich — Life of Frederick William 
von Steuben. New York, Mason, 18 59. 

Lecky, William Edward Hartpole — 
American Revolution, 1763-1783. New 
York, Appleton, 1898. 

Lee, Henry — Memoirs of the War in the 
Southern Department. Rev. ed. New 
York, University Publishing Co., 1869. 
(First pub. in 1812.) 

Lodge, Henry Cabot — George Washington 
(American Statesmen, Library ed.). 2 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 


Honor to George Washington 

Parkman, Francis — Montcalm and Wolfe. 
2 vols. Boston, Little Brown, 18 84. 

Perkins, James Breck — France in the 
American Revolution. Boston, Houghton 
Mifflin, 1911. 

Simcoe, John G. — Simcoe's Military Jour- 
nal. New York, Bartlett & Welford, 
1844. (First pub. in 1787.) 

Stedman, Charles — History of the Origin, 
Progress, and Termination of the Ameri- 
can War. 2 vols. London, Murray, 1794. 

Stryker, William S. — Battle of Mon- 
mouth. Princeton, Princeton University 
Press, 1927. 

Stryker, William S. — Battles of Trenton 

and Princeton. Boston, Houghton Mif- 
flin, 1898. 

Thacher, James — Military Journal during 
the American Revolutionary War. Rev. 
ed. Boston, Cottons & Barnard, 1827. 

Thayer, William Roscoe — George Wash- 
ington. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1922. 
(Especially chs. iii-vii. ) 

Trevelyan, Sir George Otto — American 
Revolution. New ed. 4 vols. New 
York, Longmans Green, 1905-12. (Con- 
tinued by next title.) 

Trevelyan, Sir George Otto — George the 
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Van Tyne, Claude H. — Founding of the 
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Houghton Mifflin, 1929. 

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(Especially ch. v.) 


A Private in the Continental Army 

Pamphlet Number Eleven 

Washington the Traveler 

By Prof . Archibald Henderson 

Part I 


George Washington 

From a portrait by John Trumbull in the City Hall at Charleston, S. C. 


IASHINGTON was one of those 
singular prophetic historical char- 
acters who conducted himself as 
if aware that his doings were to 
become the material of history. Posterity 
profits by Washington's methodical habits, 
his factual viewpoint, his patience and per- 
sistence in recording, even under the most 
trying circumstances, the events of his daily 
life, of his surveying expeditions, his em- 
bassies, his journeys into the West for the 
inspection of lands, his tours through all 

the original thirteen states after he became 

If these diaries are to be taken as evidence, 
Washington was an extravert. He never 
unpacked his soul in a journal and com- 
mitted to the revealing pages of a diary a 
record of his thoughts and emotions. Many 
of these records must have been jotted down 
when Washington, for all his strength and 
endurance, was weary, even to exhaustion. 
So he carefully husbands space, and meticu- 
lously records only the most interesting of 
external events. Occasionally he indulges 
in observations, which are usually those of a 

surveyor, an agriculturist, or a captain of 

Washington was endowed with a mind of 
great practicality and a literalness which 
proceeded in great measure from natural 
clarity of thought. His diaries contain no 
poetic descriptions of mountains, rivers, for- 
ests, or landscapes. He assessed the country 
through which he passed in terms of its 
value, actual or potential, for cultivation, 
water power, canals, mill sites, development 
as farms, residential sites, or sources of min- 
eral deposit. The greatest man of his age 
never saw Great Britain, against which he 
headed a revolt; France, America's friend 
and ally; or any foreign soil, save the 

Washington was no ordinary tourist, 
reveling in travel for its own sake, but a 
traveler with a purpose. He always had an 
objective; and concerned himself very 
largely with recording the events of the 
journey or describing the country with 
reference to that objective. Washington had 
a single-track mind for the mission in hand; 
yet with prophetic vision, he was looking 
ahead, planning for the future of the 
American Republic, which lay so near his 


An inkling of some of the hardships and 
penances of pioneer life is conveyed by 
extracts printed in Pamphlet No. 1 as well 
as here. Throughout his life Washington, 
who lived at home as handsomely as any 
gentleman in the colonies, accepted the dif- 
ficulties and hardships of travel as a matter 
of course. And during the Revolutionary 
War he many times occupied rough and 
narrow quarters. 

Washington was no mere tourist, no dilet- 
tante traveler. He saw things in the large, 
with the eye of the engineer, the promoter, 
the paternalistic head of a great state. It 
is worthy of remembrance today that on his 
last western journey Washington gave his 
profoundest thought and attention to a 
great national problem of incalculable sig- 
nificance in the country's transportation and 
internal navigation future. Never to be 
forgotten are the words entered in this 
diary, pointing clearly the way to cement 
East and West in close sympathy and union: 



Honor to George Washington 

"It is co open a wide door, and make a 
smooth way for the produce of that Coun- 
try [the West] to pass to our Markets be- 
fore the trade may get into another chan- 
nel . . ." 


Like many of the active, vigorous men of 
that day — George Rogers Clark, William 
Preston, Daniel Boone, for example — Wash- 
ington was trained as a surveyor. It was 
the type of work which suited the hardy 
young Washington, with its physical exer- 
cise out of doors, its accuracy in sighting, 
measurement, calculation, and record, and 
its practical utility. Washington soon be- 
came adept in the use of compass, transit, 
and rod, and spent much of his time in a 
profession which was both pleasant and 
reasonably lucrative. Many of his surveys 
are preserved; and they are models for the 
accuracy of the plot, the clearness of the 
description, and the neatness of the chirog- 
raphy. Some of them and maps of his 
travels are here reproduced in the George 
Washington Atlas, which is the cartographi- 
cal counterpart of these pamphlets. 

In 1747 Lord Fairfax, who owned a 
proprietary in Virginia known as the North- 
ern Neck, came to this country and visited 
his cousin and agent, William Fairfax, at 
Belvoir on the Potomac. George Washing- 
ton's elder brother, Lawrence, had married 
William Fairfax's eldest daughter, Ann, four 
years earlier. The year following Lord Fair- 
fax's arrival in Virginia, George, though but 
sixteen years old, was chosen as a surveyor 
of Lord Fairfax's holdings beyond the Blue 
Ridge. He accompanied George William 
Fairfax, son of the Honorable William Fair- 
fax and of his second wife, Sarah Walker, 
on this surveying party, James Genn, county 
surveyor, being the leader. George Fairfax 
had already served arduously as surveyor the 
two preceding years, in running out lines 
for Lord Fairfax, and was a competent 
mentor for the as yet inexperienced young 

On this journey they surveyed some large 
tracts, one of 500 acres, and many small 
lots, killed wild turkeys, ate their food off 
chips, and at one place a "great Company" 
of German immigrants, men, women, and 
children, who spoke no English "attended 
us through ye. Woods as we went showing 
there Antick tricks." The most interesting 
event of the journey occurred on March 23. 
By the tender of "some Liquor" the sur- 
veyors had put a party of thirty-odd Indians 
returning from war "in y. Humour of 
Dauncing," thus described by Washington: 
"They clear a Large Circle and make a Great 
Fire in y. middle then seats themselves 
around it y. Speaker makes a grand speech 
telling them in what Manner they are to 
Daunce after he has finished y. best Dauncer 
jumps up as one awaked out of a Sleep and 
runs and Jumps about y. Ring in a most 
comical Manner he is followed by v. Rest 
then begins there Musicians to Play ye. 

Musick is a Pot half [full] of Water with 
a Deerskin Stretched over it as tight as it 
can and a goard with some Shott in it to 
Rattle and a Piece of an horses Tail tied 
to it to make it look fine y. one keeps 
Rattling and y. other Drumming all y. while 
y. others is Dauncing." 

CLAIMS (1753-1754) 

During the middle years of the eighteenth 
century, with a vast and rich country at 
her back, Virginia vigorously promoted 
western colonization. Between the years 
1743 and 1760, the Virginia Council made 
forty-three grants, many of them of vast 
tracts of land, to individuals and groups of 
individuals, totaling slightly more than 
3,000,000 acres. One of these grants, for 
200,000 acres, was made to the Ohio Com- 
pany on July 12, 1749. Washington's older 
brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, were 
prominent members of the company, Law- 
rence becoming its head on the death of 
Thomas Lee; and after Lawrence Washing- 
ton's death, Governor Dinwiddie of Vir- 
ginia became the company's leader. The 
original grant of 200,000 acres was to be 
increased by 300,000 acres if a hundred 
families were settled within seven years and 
a fort built and maintained. 

On the strength of La Salle's explorations, 
the French claimed the region about the 
Forks of the Ohio, where the Ohio Company 
grant was laid. So Dinwiddie, who repre- 
sented in his own person the combination 
of governor and speculator, decided to send 
the energetic younger brother of two part- 
ners in the Ohio Company on a difficult 
mission to the commander of the French 
garrison at Fort Le Boeuf. Dinwiddie re- 
garded Washington with favor, and had a 
year earlier appointed this inexperienced man 
of twenty to be district adjutant general, 
with the rank of major. Washington was 
dispatched to warn the French that they 
were encroaching upon private property 
granted by the English king. Washington 
was also instructed to take careful note of 
all he saw, especially of the French forts, 
and to select a site for the Ohio Company's 

Government thus allied itself with specu- 
lation in precipitating the mighty contest 
between England and France for the posses- 
sion of America. The speculator on the 
grand scale was the advance guard of civili- 
zation, the avant courier of empire. "The 
historic muse," says Alvord, "has always de- 
lighted in singing of the daring deeds of the 
explorer wandering through the dark forest, 
or paddling his canoe on unknown rivers; 
and even the homesteader, with familv goods 
packed in his prairie schooner, has had his 
exploits chanted in majestic measures; but 
few have noted the fact that both explore-- 
and homesteader were frequentlv only the 
advance agents of the speculator who 
dreamed of large enterprises in land ex- 
ploitation — that the Daniel Boones of the 

wilderness were only the pawns of some 
Richard Henderson." Washington began 
as the pawn of Dinwiddie and the Ohio 
Company; in time he changed sides and 
fought, as leader, with the French against 
the English. 



The ambitious young Washington, com- 
petent, prudent, and diplomatic, was ideally 
fitted for this delicate mission. With its 
political aspects we are here not concerned, 
but only with Washington's experiences as 
traveler. Washington set out from Wil- 
liamsburg on the last day of October, 1753, 
and at Cumberland, Maryland, engaged the 
services as guide of the famous frontiersman, 
Christopher Gist, who had made a memor- 
able tour of Kentucky two years earlier on 
behalf of the Ohio Company. On the out- 
ward journey, there were no memorable 
happenings, Washington being a splendid 
horseman and capable of great exertion. 

On the return journey, however, there 
were hardships and excitements in plenty. 
"[December] 16th . . . We had a tedious 
and very fatiguing Passage down the Creek. 
Several Times we were like to have been 
staved against Rocks; and many Times were 
obliged all Hands to get out and remain in 
the Water Half an Hour or more, getting 
over the Shoals. At one Place the Ice had 
lodged and made it impassable by Water; 
therefore we were obliged to carry our Canoe 
across a Neck of Land, a quarter of a Mile 

The horses became so fatigued on the 
overland journey that Washington donned 
"Indian walking Dress" — long leggins and 
belted shirt — and set out across country with 
Gist on December 26, walking eighteen miles 
that day. The following day, after passing 
a settlement appropriately named "Murder- 
ing-Town," they were fired on by a French 
Indian, who missed his aim. The most 
desperate experience which came near rob- 
bing America of the present celebration, was 
on the return journey above Shanapins, a 
town of the Six Nations above later Fort 
Duquesne on the Allegheny River, where the 
ice was "driving in vast Quantities." Wash- 
ington's description is vivid: 

"There was no way for getting over but 
on a Raft; Which we set about with but 
one poor Hatchet, and finished just after 
Sun-setting. This was a whole Day's Work. 
Then set off; But before we were Half Way 
over, we were jammed in the Ice, in such a 
Manner that we expected every Moment 
our Raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I 
put-out my setting Pole to try to stop the 
Raft, that the Ice might pass by; when the 
Rapiditv of the Stream threw it with so 
much Violence against the Pole, that it 
jerked me out into ten Feet Water; but I 
fortunately saved myself by catching hold 
of one of the Raft Logs. Notwithstanding 
all our efforts we could not get the Raft 
to either Shore; but were obliged, as we 

Washington the Traveler 


were near an Island to quit our Raft and 
make to it. 

"The Cold was so extremely severe, that 
Mr. Gist had all his Fingers, and some of 
his Toes frozen; but the water was shut up 
so hard, that we found no Difficulty in 
getting-off the Island, on the Ice, in the 
Morning, . . ." 


This was not the last of Washington's 
journeys beyond the mountains. In 1754 he 
headed a military expedition which fell in 
with the French on Great Meadows and 
Jumonville, commander of the French de- 
tachment, was killed. A few weeks later 
Washington was captured at Fort Necessity, 
the site of which is well known. In 175 5 
he was a member of the Braddock Expedi- 
tion. In 175 8 he was turned aside from the 
road he had helped to make and compelled 
to advance with Forbes on a rival road, com- 
ing west from Raystown (Bedford), but 
leading at last to Fort Duquesne, which a 
few weeks later became an English strong- 
hold called Fort Pitt, from which Pittsburgh 
has sprung. 

And there were later more peaceful jour- 
neys upon which we have diaries revealing 
how that impetuous spirit played with the 
wilderness, using the water highway of the 
Ohio, explored the lower Kanawha Valley. 
Washington reveled in the wilderness — and 
yet looked forward to seeing it peopled. He 
lived to see Kentucky and Tennessee come 
into the Union, and Ohio on the skids of 


Washington throughout his life was in- 
terested in the West as the seat of future 
communities attached to the East, and also 
as a field for investment. Although handi- 
capped by the lack of ready money, he was 
constantly intent upon investing in enter- 
prises for the development of the natural 
resources of virgin America. For him the 
West, ever after his trip to Fort Le Boeuf, 
had a singular and powerful allure. Like 
the leading Virginians of his day, Washing- 
ton looked upon the vast back country, of 
literally fabulous richness and unknown ex- 
tent, lying within the ancient charter limits 
of Virginia, as the potential field of great 
fortune. Under Governor Dinwiddie's 
proclamation of 1754, promising land to 
those who would enlist for the Fort Neces- 
sity expedition, Washington was entitled to 
a tract of 15,000 acres; and the total amount 
allocated for the soldiers was 200,000 acres. 

Washington was eager to engross lands in 
the Ohio country for himself, in addition 
to the bounty land promised under the 
proclamation of 1754. Undeterred by the 
royal proclamation of 1763, prohibiting any 
land grants west of the heads of the rivers 
flowing into the Allegheny, which he 
thought would in a few years prove a dead 
letter, owing to the inexorable westward 

advance of the ruthless pioneers, as early as 
1767 Washington engaged an agent, Captain 
William Crawford, living at present Con- 
nellsville, Pennsylvania, to look out secretly 
a rich tract of land for him, of 2,000 acres, 
more or less. 

Impatient over the delay in securing the 
land for the soldiers under the proclamation 
of 1754, Washington volunteered to take 
the matter in hand and perfect the grants 
for his old comrades in arms. He engaged 
in voluminous correspondence, made repre- 
sentations, and personally appeared before 
the Governor and Council. Finally, through 
a conference with the officers of the troops 
held at Fredericksburg in August, 1770, he 
was authorized to act as their representative 
in pushing their claims and perfecting their 
grants to the lands on the Ohio. 

In this matter, Washington was not ani- 
mated by wholly unselfish motives; for 
knowing the carelessness and inefficiency of 
old soldiers, he sought to purchase at low 
figures, personally and through his brother 
Charles and others, some of the officers' 
claims. The 200,000 acres was to be taken 
up in not more than twenty surveys; and 
Washington, as he himself says, "rather than 
be at the trouble and expense of dividing 
with others bought and exchanged until I 
got entire tracts to myself." For the greater 
part of the expense incurred in the man- 
agement of this affair and the trip to the 
Ohio, Washington was never reimbursed. 


Washington's interests in the West 
brought out some of his most characteristic 
writings. His journal of his long trip to 
the Ohio in 1770 and down that river to 
the mouth of the Great Kanawha is full of 
the frontier experience. 

Accompanied by Dr. Craik, his physician 
and friend, his two negro boys, Billy and 
Giles, and Craik's servant, with a lead horse 
and baggage, Washington set off on October 
5, 1770, for the "Settlement on Redstone." 
During the journey he encountered and 
talked at length with two striking charac- 
ters, Col. George Croghan, one of the great- 
est land speculators of the day, and the 
ingenious Dr. John Connolly, later as Gov. 
Dunmore's agent to provoke the outbreak 
of the Shawnee war in 1774, and to suffer 
arrest on the eve of the Revolution. 

Prophetic of impending trouble was the 
attitude of the Indians who, despite the 
grant of the Six Nations to the Crown at 
Fort Stanwix two years earlier, were still 
grumbling, declaring, as Crawford said, that 
they "shall not Run any farther till they 
are paid for the Land." Washington's ob- 
servation, November 17, 1770, of their atti- 
tude, is significant: "The Indians who live 
upon the Ohio (the upper parts of it at 
least) are composed of Shawnas, Delawares, 
and some of the Mingos, who getting but 
little paid of the consideration that was 
given for the Lands Eastward of the Ohio, 

view the Settlement of the People upon this 
River with an uneasy and jealous Eye, and 
do not scruple to say that they must be 
compensated for their Right if the People 
settle thereon, notwithstanding the Cession 
of the Six Nation's thereto. On the other 
hand, the People from Virginia and else- 
where, are exploring and Marking all the 
Lands that are valuable not only on Red- 
stone and other waters of Monongahela but 
along down the Ohio as low as the little 
Kanhawa; . . ." 


On this journey Washington reveals that 
"eye for ground" which is at once the dis- 
tinguishing feature of the engineer, the agri- 
culturist, and the land speculator. He shot 
buffalos, was entertained by his old friend, 
the Indian Kiashuta; and measured a giant 
sycamore "(3 feet from the Gd.) 45 feet 
round, lacking two Inches." On Novem- 
ber 3, he marked out at the mouth of the 
Great Kanawha River some corners of the 
"Soldiers Ld. (if we can get it)." 

On November 5, 1772, Washington wrote 
to Lord Dunmore and the Council that the 
entire 200,000 acres had at last been ob- 
tained, and most of the certificates deposited. 
"After the Patents were granted and the 
Land thereby secured," wrote Washington a 
quarter of a century later, "I concerned 
myself no further with any part thereof 
excepting my own." Under the later much 
more liberal allowance for the soldiers, as 
well as by individual purchases made for a 
"trifle," Washington eventually secured 
some 32,373 acres, fronting for sixteen miles 
on the Ohio, for forty miles on the Great 


After the Revolution was over, and well 
over, and Washington had returned to 
Mount Vernon, it was not long before he 
resolved to make a tour to the westward, 
to inspect his land holdings. For his mili- 
tary services throughout the Revolution, 
Washington refused to receive anything but 
his expenses. Owing to long absence from 
home, his business affairs had of necessity 
been much neglected. To the Chevalier de 
la Luzerne, who invited him to visit France, 
Washington made clear why he could not 
consider a foreign tour: his financial affairs 
compelled the closest attention and his pres- 
ence at home. 

In 1784 Washington was not intent upon 
any journey of exploration for new lands; 
he merely wished to establish his rights to 
those he had. Accompanied by his devoted 
friend, Dr. Craik, he set off on September 1, 
1784, for Bath, now Berkeley Springs, West 
Virginia, where he arrived on September 5. 
Three days later, with accessions of Dr. 
Craik's son, William, and Washington's 
nephew, Bushrod Washington, the party 
pushed on to Washington's old mill, some 
twelve miles from present New Haven. 
Pennsvlvania. Here he transacted the busi- 


Honor to George Washington 

ness he had in hand, in connection with the 
mill, and some land he owned in partner- 
ship with one Gilbert Simpson, land now 
overrun by squatters. 

TION (1784-1785) 

Washington did not accomplish one of the 
main purposes of his journey, namely to visit 
his land holdings on the Ohio and the Great 
Kanawha, and rescue them "from the hands 
of Land Jobbers and Speculators." But in 
the course of the journey, mental specula- 
tion he had long indulged in occupied him, 
one might almost say obsessed him. It con- 
cerned a water route from Virginia to the 

West, in particular the navigation of the 
Potomac River. The conclusion of the 
diary, in which he summarises the results of 
the journey, reveals Washington as an able 
engineer, a man with a large vision for the 
future development of transportation. His 
conclusions were reached after elaborate in- 
quiries from many people whom he encoun- 
tered or visited upon this tour. 

Almost immediately upon his return home 
he wrote an extended letter to Gov. Harri- 
son of Virginia, urging the opening of com- 
munications with the Great Lakes and the 
interior. The direct outcome was the pass- 
age of a law by both Maryland and Virginia 
the following year (1785), for the, forma- 
tion of a navigation company to connect 

East and West. Washington himself was 
elected president of the company thus estab- 
lished, known as the Potomac Company, an 
organization elsewhere described in these 

At the same session of the Virginia As- 
sembly an act was passed for clearing and 
improving the navigation of the James River. 
On October 20, 1785, Washington was 
elected president of the James River Navi- 
gation Company, the active duties of which 
he declined. These progressive steps toward 
the development of inland navigation and 
communication with the interior stimulated 
corresponding movements in other states, and 
gave impetus to a national program of in- 
ternal improvements. 

Part II 
New England 



No officer and no soldier in the Continen- 
tal Army traveled so many miles and visited 
so many places as Washington. During 
the period of hostilities from 1775 to 1780, 
he never was able to visit Mount Vernon; 
but he stopped there on his way to and from 
the Yorktown campaign in 1781. Except 
for this, the theater of his movements after 
the siege of Boston was from the Connecti- 
cut border to the Head of Elk. These jour- 
neys can hardly be considered travels; they 
are part of the military experience of Wash- 
ington. He did visit New York and Phila- 
delphia and the numerous towns strung 
along that narrow and extended field of 
war; but that was simply a part of his pro- 
fession of arms. A hundred places can now 
be identified as having seen the general ride 
past in the midst of his ragged army of 

LAND (1756-1776) 

Washington's first trip to New England 
resulted from a question of rank between 
himself as a provincial colonel and a captain 
of Maryland troops who also held a minor 
royal commission. The Maryland captain 
refused to receive orders from his nominal 
superior. After other means had been ex- 
hausted, Washington with the permission of 
Governor Dinwiddie undertook a trip to Bos- 
ton in 175 6 in order to place the matter 
before Governor William Shirley, who was 
also commander-in-chief of the British 
forces in America. Accompanied by his 
aide and servants in livery, Washington left 
Virginia on February 4 and returned to his 
command on March 28. During the jour- 

ney he stopped at Philadelphia and New 
York, where, as well as in Boston, he was 
entertained socially and met prominent men. 
This was the beginning of Washington's ac- 
quaintance with such men outside his own 
colony, which was an interesting phase of 
his career, for the knowledge of leaders 
throughout the colonies and later states was 
one element of his primacy. 

Washington's second visit to New Eng- 
land was nearly twenty years after his first. 
Appointed General and Commander in Chief 
of the Army of the United Colonies on June 
15, 1775, on June 23 he was on the road 
northward. On the road he received the 
news of the battle of Bunker Hill. He took 
the southern route and at New Haven re- 
viewed a military company of good character 
composed of students. At Springfield he was 
met by a committee of the Massachusetts 
Provincial Congress, at Watertown was 
greeted by the Congress itself, and arrived 
at Cambridge on July 2. 

Washington's stay in Cambridge lasted till 
after the evacuation of Boston by the British 
on March 17, 1776. In April he started on 
his return journey via Providence, New Lon- 
don, and New Haven; and on the 13th 
reached New York. 


An interesting and important series of 
journeys were the three trips to New Eng- 
land during 1780 and 1781, without any 
military accompaniment except an escort. 
The first of these was a six-day journey 
from headquarters at the "Hopper House" 
in New Jersey to Hartford and return to 
West Point, to confer with Rochambeau, 
commander of the French forces then in 

Narragansett Bay. Count Fersen, the gal- 
lant Swede who was on Rochambeau's staff, 
thus reports his experiences: 

"I was at Hartford . . . with Ro- 
chambeau. We were only six, the Admiral 
[Ternay], his Chief of Engineers [Desan- 
drouins], his son, the Viscomte de Rocham- 
beau, and two aids-de-camp. . . . 
R — sent me in advance ... I had time to 
see this man, illustrious, if not unique in 
our century. . . . His suite was more nu- 
merous than ours. The Marquis de Lafay- 
ette, General Knox . . . Gouvion, 
. . . and six aids-de-camp. . . . He had be- 
sides an escort of 22 dragoons." 

The second journey was from New Wind- 
sor, N. Y., March 1, 1781, to Newport and 
Providence, with the purpose of a further 
conference with the French, returning to 
New Windsor March 20. 

The third New England journey was made 
at the request of Rochambeau to meet him 
at Wethersfield, Connecticut, starting from 
New Windsor May 18, 1781, and returning 
on May 2 5. It was at this meeting that the 
final plans were made for joint action by 
the two armies, which, while ostensibly 
aimed at New York City, eventuated before 
Yorktown, Virginia. 


The most important and extended travels 
in which Washington engaged, aside from 
the military campaigns of the Revolution, 
were the three separate tours he made as 
President of the United States, visiting all 
the thirteen original states. Although An- 
drew Johnson invented the phrase, Washing- 
ton was the first American President to go 
"swinging round the circle." No strong 
bond of national feeling yet united the 

Washington the Traveler 


states. In making these tours Washington 
was actuated by the desire to win the good- 
will, the support, of the people for the 
general government. By his dignified and 
gracious presence, which evoked the love 
and enthusiastic loyalty of the people, Wash- 
ington could accomplish far more than by 
innumerable messages and state papers. The 
purpose of these tours was to become ac- 
quainted with the country and the people as 
a whole, and to learn "the temper and dis- 
position of the inhabitants towards the new 


The first of these presidential tours was 
Washington's sixth New England journey 
and extended as far north as Kittery, Maine, 
then a part of Massachusetts. This trip was 
to have one momentous incident in establish- 
ing permanently and fixing in the public 
mind the supremacy of the President over 
the Governor of a state. 

October 15, 1789, Washington set out 
from New York on his "tour through the 
Eastern States." His diary is a model of 
circumspection, strongly objective, and 
reminiscences of his own past experiences 
are conspicuously absent. His mention of 
persons is unaccompanied by personalities, 
and it is characteristic of Washington that 
one of his chief concerns was the welfare of 
the horses. With paternal interest, he gives 
particular attention to the geographical and 
agricultural features of the country, the 
quality of the houses and places of entertain- 
ment, the general welfare of the people, and 
a description of promising industries indica- 
tive of future development and prosperity. 


The tour was marked by democratic sim- 
plicity. Although Washington was regarded 
with a reverence amounting to awe, and 
was thought of in monarchical rather than 
in republican terms by a people still largely 
rural and provincial, he carefully avoided 
aristocratic pretentiousness. In the minds 
of the people Washington was the great 
soldier, the saviour of his country as the 
military leader of a revolution. In these 
piping times of peace Washington sought to 
divert the minds of the people from martial 
preoccupations towards peaceful pursuits. 
As far as he was able he declined military 
escorts; and in his utterances or addresses 
omitted allusions to the Revolution, looking 
always to the future rather than to the past. 

On this tour Washington drove in a hired 
coach, or "chariot" as it was called, and 
was accompanied by Major William Jackson, 
his aide-de-camp, and Tobias Lear, his pri- 
vate secretary. In addition, there were six 
servants, nine horses, and a luggage wagon. 
It was Washington's habit to retire not later 
than nine o'clock; and one cannot but won- 
der when he found time to make entries in 
his diary. His hour of rising was four 
o'clock and he was often some miles on his 
journey before breakfasting. By making an 

early start each day he often avoided the 
attendance of large cavalcades which for all 
the compliment implied, nevertheless kicked 
up a lot of dust. The attitude of the people 
along the way is quaintly expressed in this 
quotation from a contemporary newspaper: 
"At his approach party disappears, and 
everyone runs a race in endeavoring who 
shall be foremost in paying him the tribute 
of grateful respect. Old and young — men 
and women, — all, all are alike affected and 
all alike endeavor to express their feelings 
by the most lively testimonials." 


Passing through Rye, Horse Neck, Stam- 
ford, Fairfield, Stratford, and Milford, the 
party arrived at New Haven, Connecticut, 
a town of about four thousand inhabitants, 
on October 17. Yale and its president, Dr. 
Ezra Stiles, Washington mentions as "a Col- 
lege, in which there are at this time 120 
Students under the auspices of Dr. Styles." 
After receiving courteous attentions from 
the governor, state officials, and Revolu- 
tionary veterans, Washington resumed his 
journey; Wallingford, Middletown, Wethers- 
field, Hartford, Springfield, Palmer, Brook- 
field, Leicester, Worcester. Unwilling to 
establish a precedent, Washington declined 
to review the militia drawn up to receive 
him at Cambridge "otherwise than as a 
private man." 


The awkward incident occurred on leav- 
ing Cambridge, where Washington and party 
arrived at ten on the morning of Saturday, 
October 24. It was occasioned by the as- 
surance of Governor Hancock, who unduly 
magnified his own office. At Cambridge, 
Washington was met, not by the governor, 
but by the lieutenant governor — this being 
a detail of Hancock's plan to force the Presi- 
dent of the United States to pay the first 
call upon the Governor of Massachusetts. 
The selectmen of Boston, who had made 
elaborate preparations to receive the Presi- 
dent, resolutely refused to give way to the 
state officials, and the latter, with reluctance, 
yielded and the selectmen had their way. 

Prior to reaching Boston, Washington had 
declined, according to rule, to lodge at 
Governor Hancock's house; but had accepted 
his invitation to an informal dinner. After 
elaborate greetings, chiefly a sort of pageant 
of the occupations, and passing through a 
handsome memorial arch, Washington finally 
arrived at his lodgings, at the home of the 
widow of Joseph Ingersoll. As soon as 
Washington realized that Hancock was seek- 
ing to demonstrate that a state's executive 
should take precedence within the state over 
the President of the nation, he acted in- 
stantly and appropriately, as indicated by the 
entry in his diary: "Saturday, 24th. . . . 
Having engaged yesterday to take an in- 
formal dinner with the Govr. to-day, but 
under a full persuasion that he would have 
waited upon me so soon as I should have 

arrived — I excused myself upon his not 
doing it, and informing me thro' his Secre- 
tary that he was too much indisposed to 
do it, being resolved to receive the visit." 


Governor Hancock, a man of no little 
vanity and a great lover of display, now 
realized that he had committed a grave 
breach of etiquette, which was a matter less 
of social than of national importance, af- 
fecting the relative stations of Governor 
and President. Availing himself of the very 
transparent excuse of suffering from the 
gout, he dispatched two members of the 
Council to Washington, with this explana- 
tion. Washington, with grave frankness, 
informed the bearers of Hancock's explana- 
tion that he did not feel himself at liberty 
to waive the matter or respect due to his 
office and that he would not see the gover- 
nor save at his own lodgings. On Sunday, 
2 5 th, Hancock sent Washington a note, at 
12:30 o'clock, proposing, if agreeable to the 
President, to call in half an hour to pay his 
respects. The note contains the comically 
self-important phrase, as if his life were at 
stake, "He now hazards every thing, as it 
respects his health, for the desirable pur- 
pose." Washington's reply is stern and 

"2 5 October, one o'clock. 

"The President of the United States pre- 
sents his best respects to the Governor, and 
has the honor to inform him that he shall 
be at home till two o'clock. 

"The President needs not express the 
pleasure it will give him to see the Gover- 
nor; but at the same time, he most earnestly 
begs that the Governor will not hazard his 
health on the occasion." 

The climax of the affair was lower than 
high comedy: it was opera bouffe. Han- 
cock, staging the scene with dramatic effec- 
tiveness, drove to Washington's unpreten- 
tious lodgings in his gorgeous coach, with 
liveried attendants; and had himself, swathed 
in red baize, borne into Washington's pres- 
ence in the arms of his servants. Washing- 
ton notes in his diary Hancock's plea in 
extenuation of his conduct: "Sunday, 25th. 
... I received a visit from the Gov'r, who 
assured me that indisposition alone prevented 
his doing it yesterday, and that he was still 
indisposed; but as it had been suggested 
that he expected to receive the visit from the 
President, which he knew was improper, he 
was resolved at all haz'ds to pay his Com- 
pliments to-day." 

Hancock's personal dislike for Washing- 
ton doubtless dated from that humiliating 
moment in Congress when John Adams pro- 
posed as commander in chief of the armies of 
the American colonies not the egotistic Han- 
cock, who expected to be nominated, but the 
self-effacing Washington. The Boston inci- 
dent marks the first defeat in American his- 
tory of state rights in conflict with national 


Honor to George Washington 


The remainder of Washington's tour was 
marked by no especially noteworthy inci- 
dents. Everywhere he encountered the most 
respectful, even enthusiastic receptions, with 
speeches and addresses, parades and salutes. 
He visited Harvard College, and displayed 
much interest in the fishing industry at 
Marblehead, the shoe emporium at Lynn, the 
"Cotton Manufactory," conducted by John 
and George Cabot, near Beverly, and the 
duck manufactories at Stratford and Haver- 
hill. Comments on these industries are in 
Pamphlet No. 12. At Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire, he received every courtesy from 
state officials, and sat for his portrait to a 
Danish artist, Christian Gulager, at the re- 
quest of Mr. Samuel Breck of Boston "who 
wrote Majr. Jackson that it was an earnest 
desire of many of the Inhabitants of that 
Town that he might be indulged." The 
return journey to New York was swift, and 

he happily arrived, in refutation of super- 
stition, on Friday, November 13. 

TOURS (1791) 

In April, 1790, Washington made a tour 
of observation through the western half of 
Long Island, particularly to notice agricul- 
tural conditions. It was, probably, the first 
time he had been on the island since the 
retreat after the battle of 1776. An extract 
showing with what a keen eye he viewed the 
land will be found in a later part of this 

At the time of making the "tour to the 
eastward," Rhode Island had not yet become 
a part of the Union. In consequence Wash- 
ington did not pass through that state in 

1789. Following the ratification of the Con- 
stitution by Rhode Island on May 29, 1790, 
Washington visited that state in August, 

1790, being absent from the 14th until the 
24th and "everywhere cordially welcomed 
bv the inhabitants." 

He traveled by water from New York 
in a packet boat and landed first at New- 
port. Of this trip we have no diary, but 
Congress having just adjourned, he was ac- 
companied by various statesmen, one of 
whom, Congressman Smith of South Caro- 
lina, wrote an account of the journey, ex- 
tracts from which are in the final portion 
of this pamphlet. As was the case in Bos- 
ton the President had the memory of a 
wartime visit to contrast with the circum- 
stances of the present reception. The French 
forces were no longer there, the nation was 
now at peace, and the last of the pillars to 
support the Federal Dome had been erected. 

After an over-night stop at Newport the 
water trip was resumed to Providence. Here 
the same sort of a general welcome awaited 
the party; similar dinners, addresses, and 
promenades of the town, a visit to the col- 
lege that is now Brown University, and an 
inspection of the shipyard of the family 
after whom the college is named. The re- 
turn to New York was also by packet boat. 

Part III 
Southern Journeys 


The only open ocean journey made by 
Washington was as companion and amateur 
nurse to his brother, Lawrence, a sufferer 
from tuberculosis, who sought benefit in the 
climate of Barbados. In earlier years George 
had studied navigation; and so now he kept 
a journal with paper ruled in the usual log- 
book form, with appropriate entries regard- 
ing the weather, direction of prevailing 
winds, hours, and the speed and course, 
thickly sprinkled with nautical terms. 
Though destined to be the father of his 
country, Washington proved not immune to 
sea sickness; but he was much impressed by 
the violent seas and winds blowing big guns. 
"[October] \9th. Hard Squals of Wind 
and Rain with a f [ojmented [?] Sea jostling 
in heaps occasion [ed] by Wavering wind 
. . . the Compass not remaining 2 hours in 
any point. The Seamen seemed disheartned 
confessing they never had seen such weather 
before. ... A prodigy in ye West appear'd 
towards ye suns setting abt. 6 P. M., re- 
markable for its extraordinary redness." 



With youthful enthusiasm George says of 
a drive into the country in the cool of the 
evening of November 4 that he "was per- 
fectly rav[ished with delight by?] the beau- 
tiful prospects which on every side presented 
to our view The fields of Cain, Corn, Fruit 
Trees, &c in a delightful Green." He makes 
many comments on the island and its inhabi- 

tants, praises the fruit, notably the "Pine 
Apple China Orange" and the "Avagado 
pair," but of the fair sex can only say: "The 
Ladys Generally are very agreeable but by 
ill custom or wt. [not?] affect the Negro 
Style." The brothers were frequently enter- 
tained by the leading families on the island, 
and George, who later became such a lover 
of drama and devotee of the theater, was 
"treated with a play ticket by Mr. [James] 
Carter to see the Tragedy of George Barn- 
well," to which "was Musick a Dapted." 

The most interesting comment of the 
journal, revealing Washington's early pre- 
dilection for agriculture, concerns a practice 
of the Barbados, thus described: "[Decem- 
ber] 22d. . . . Their dung they are very 
careful in saving, and curious in makg. 
which they do by throughing up large heaps 
of Earth and a number of Stakes drove there 
in Sufficient for Sixten head of Cattle to 
Stand separately tied too which they are 
three months together tramplg. all the trash 
&ca. than . . . and then its fit to ma- 
nu[re?] the Ground." 

George was so unfortunate as to contract 
the smallpox, which kept him confined from 
November 17 until December 12, but for- 
tunately left no grave disfigurement. Law- 
rence died July 26, 1752, following his re- 
turn in despair to Virginia. 


Wilderness could be found hundreds of 
miles to the eastward of the mountains. Not 
far from Williamsburg lay a kind of un- 

drained plateau, commonly called the Dismal 
Swamp. Washington had doubtless read 
Colonel William Byrd's earlier writings con- 
cerning the region, especially with reference 
to making it available. He was active in 
organizing a stock company for the pur- 
pose, of which he was president and general 
manager. In the preamble of the original 
act, which was passed by the Virginia As- 
sembly January 18, 1764, it is stated that 
"a number of gentlemen have recently 
formed themselves into a company of ad- 
venturers for the purpose of draining, and 
rendering fit for cultivation, a large tract 
of marshy ground, known by the name of 
the Great Dismal Swamp." The "adven- 
turers" associated with Washington were 
Col. Fielding Lewis, Burwell Bassett, Dr. 
John Walker, John Robinson, and perhaps 
John Washington. 

The object was to reclaim the land, not 
only for agriculture, but for the timber. In 
the early operations of the Dismal Swamp 
Canal Company, much attention was paid 
to getting out material for shingles. One 
item in Washington's ledger is an account 
of 70,300 shingles. Small canals were built 
by "Colonel Washington and Company," as 
the organization was popularly called, for 
lightering the timber out from Lake Drum- 
mond, at the center of the great swamp. 
One of the canals, a lovely little waterway, 
is derisively but unjustly called Washing- 
ton's Ditch. 

Washington was an engineer and a big 
business man; had he lived today he would 
have been called a captain of industry. He 

Washington the Traveler 


was so interested in the project of draining 
the canal that he visited it repeatedly, 
notably in May and October, 1763, July, 
1764, November, 1766, April and October, 
1767, and October, 1768. In the course 
of these visits he went entirely around Lake 
Drummond and penetrated far into the in- 
terior of the Swamp. As the result of 
Washington's discovery that the current of 
Lake Drummond flowed into one of the 
rivers of Albermarle Sound, and the ad- 
vocacy of the project by Hugh Williamson, 
North Carolina and Virginia nearly sixty 
years later united to cut the Dismal Swamp 
Canal, which was opened in 1822. 


During his examination and survey of the 
Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, Washing- 
ton usually stopped at the homes of Gen. 
Joseph Reddick and Gen. Kedar Ballard, the 
plantation of the latter adjoining lands 
owned by Washington. Washington's con- 
cise record of his survey in May, 1763, 
stands as evidence of his vigor as traveler 
and surveyor. 

One entry is especially of interest: ". . . 
we crossed from Elias Stallens (one Mile 
above the upper bridge on Pequemin) across 
to a set of People which Inhabit a small 
slipe of Land between the said River Peque- 
men [Perquimans] and the Dismal Swamp, 
and from thence along a new cut path 
through the Main Swamp a Northerly Course 
for 5 Miles, to the Inhabitants of what they 
call new found land, which is thick settled, 
very rich Land, and about 6 Miles from the 
aforesaid River Bridge of Paspetank [ B as- 
quotank]. The Arm of the Dismal which 
we passed through to get to this New land 
(as it is called) is 3 % Miles Measured little 
or no timber in it, but veryfull of Reeds 
and excessive rich. Thro this we carried 
horses without any great difficulty. 

"The Land was formerly esteemed part 
of the Dismal, but being higher, tho' full 
of Reeds, People ventured to settle upon it 
and as it became more open, it became more 
dry and is now prodigeous fine land, but 
subject to wets and unhealthiness." 

Washington still possessed some of this 
land at his death; and the investment ap- 
pears to have been one of his few wild-land 
ventures which paid dividends. 

TOUR (1791) 

Before making the inspection tour of the 
southern states, Washington waited for 
North Carolina to ratify the Constitution, 
which took place on November 21, 1789. 
He made elaborate preparations for the tour, 
which was to last three and a half months. 
His coach was thoroughly overhauled, and 
in its new coat of gleaming white put up a 
brave appearance: painted designs of the 
four seasons on doors and front and back, 
and the Washington arms on the four quar- 
ter panels, gilded framework for the coach, 

and brass buckles for the harness. On this 
tour Major Jackson was his companion, 
secretary, and aide. Besides the four horses to 
the "Charriot," and two horses to the bag- 
gage wagon, there were four saddle horses 
and a led one for Washington; and five at- 
tendants: "Valet de Chambre, two footmen, 
Coachmen [sic] and postilion." The out- 
riders in their bright livery of red and white 
gave a touch of gallantry and distinction to 
the equipage and cavalcade. 

VIRGINIA (1791) 

Washington left Philadelphia on March 21 
for Mount Vernon, breaking the journey by 
a pleasant stop at Annapolis where he was 
graciously received, and at Georgetown, 
where he transacted important business con- 
cerning the laying out of the Federal City. 

After a full week sojourn at Mount Ver- 
non, the party set off on April 7 for the long 
southern tour. At Fredericksburg where he 
had spent his youth he was warmly received 
by the citizenry; at Richmond he "viewed 
the Canal, Sluces, Locks, and other works" in 
company with the governor and officials of 
the James River Navigation Company, which 
had been established six years earlier. At 
Petersburg he was suitably entertained and 
attended a large ball at the Mason's Hall. As 
was his custom, he mentioned that there 
were present "between 60 and 70 ladies," 
but was evidently wholly uninterested in 
the number of men present, as he does not 
mention it. Here and at other points on this 
tour Washington was described in public ad- 
dresses as the "father of your country;" but 
the term had been used before. 


In North Carolina, entertainments and re- 
ceptions greeted him at Halifax, Tarborough, 
and Greenville; and New Berne received him 
with unusual demonstrations of pleasure. At 
the latter place, he was twice entertained at 
the Palace, built by the royal governor, Wil- 
liam Tryon; and by one of those singular 
reverses of destiny in which history is so 
rich, Tryon's office served as a stable for 
Washington's horses. A notable reception 
greeted Washington at Wilmington and the 
address of the citizens was doubtless very 
agreeable to Washington, in predicting "the 
effectual operation of the new constitution." 

The reception at Georgetown was marked 
by heartiness and fervor. But the climax of 
the tour — and of all Washington's tours — 
was reached at Charleston, where he was 
elaborately entertained for a solid week. 
This is the most lavish and prolonged enter- 
tainment ever accorded any American Presi- 
dent. The masses vied with the aristocrats 
in doing homage to the truly beloved Wash- 
ington. Noteworthy features of the enter- 
tainment at Charleston were: the banquet to 
Washington by the members of the Society 
of the Cincinnati, which had been organized 
only eight years earlier; and the concert of 
the famous St. Cecelia Society, inaugtirated 

as early as 1737. Even the imperturbable 
Washington, a great admirer of feminine 
charms, was dazzled by the sparkling scene 
and the beautiful gentlewomen of Charles- 
ton, at the St. Cecilia Society concert: 
"Thursday, [May] 5th ... in the evening 
went to a Concert at the Exchange at wch. 
there were at least 400 ladies the number 
and appearance of wch. exceeded anything 
of the kind I had ever seen." 

There hangs today in the Charleston City 
Hall a full length portrait of Washington 
painted by Trumbull, according to a reso- 
lution of the City Council of May 7, 1791 — 
one of the most signal tributes paid to 
Washington on his tour. A reproduction 
of it is the frontispiece of this pamphlet. 
When the Charleston Battalion of Artillery 
offered to serve as his body guard, Wash- 
ington politely declined, declaring that he 
felt himself perfectly safe in "the affection 
and amicable attachment of the people." 


Savannah, Augusta, Columbia, and Cam- 
den vied with one another in paying tribute 
to Washington. At Mulberry Grove Wash- 
ington called upon the sprightly and witty 
widow of the ablest American general in the 
Revolution after Washington, Nathanael 
Greene, and as he inadequately describes the 
visit, "asked her how she did." At Charlotte, 
where he was hospitably entertained, Wash- 
ington refers to Queen's College, with an 
attendance sometimes reaching sixty boys; 
and here he was told of the famous and 
much disputed Mecklenburg Declaration of 

At Salisbury Washington was welcomed 
by, among others, Judge Spruce Macay, the 
law preceptor of another great President of 
the United States, Andrew Jackson, and by 
John Steele, afterwards comptroller of the 
treasury under Washington, Adams, and 
Jefferson. Washington is said to have visited 
the tavern of Elizabeth Maxwell Steele, who 
aided General Greene in the darkest hour of 
his career with the gift of her savings of 
years, two bags of specie; and to have seen 
there the picture of George III on the back 
of which Green exultantly wrote with a dead 
coal taken from the fireplace, after receiving 
Mrs. Steele's gift: "O George! Hide thy face 
and mourn." The reception given Wash- 
ington by the Moravians at Salem was par- 
ticularly pleasing to him; and he considered 
Salem a model community. 

Washington performed this tour of 1887 
miles in record time, arriving at each place 
on the day scheduled. In a letter to David 
Humphreys, July 20, 1791, he said: "The 
country appears to be in a very improving 
state, and industry and frugality are becom- 
ing much more fashionable than they have 
hitherto been there. Tranquillity reigns 
among the people, with that disposition 
towards the general government, which is 
likely to preserve it." 


Honor to George Washington 

Part IV 


"Gentn: My old Chariot havg. run its 
race, and gone through as many stages as I 
could conveniently make it travel, is now 
renderd incapable of any further Service; 
The intent of this Letter therefore is to de- 
sire you will bespeak me a New one, time 
enough to come out with the Goods (I shall 
hereafter write for) by Captn. Johnstown, 
or some other Ship. 

"As these are kind of Articles, that last 
with care agst. number of years, I woud 
willingly have the Chariot you may now 
send me made in the newest taste, handsome, 
genteel and light; yet not slight and conse- 
quently unserviceable. To be made of the 
best Seasond Wood, and by a celebrated 
Workman. The last Importation which I 
have seen, besides the customary steel springs 
have others that play in a Brass barrel, and 
contribute at one and the same time to the 
ease and Ornament of the Carriage; One of 
this kind therefore woud be my choice; and 
Green being a colour little apt, as I appre- 
hend to fade, and grateful to the Eye, I 
woud give it the preference, unless any other 
colour more in vogue and equally lasting is 
entitled to precedency, in that case I woud 
be governd by fashion. A light gilding on 
the mouldings that is, round the Pannels) 
and any other Ornaments that may not 
have a heavy and tawdry look (together 
with my Arms agreeable to the Impression 
here sent) might be added, by way of deco- 
ration. A lining of a handsome, lively 
cold, leather of good quality, I sh'd also 
prefer; such as green, blew, or &ca., as may 
best suit the col'r of the outside, Let the 
box that slips under Seat, be as large as it 
conveniently can be made (for the benefit 
of Storage upon a journey), and to have a 
Pole (not shafts) for the Wheel Horses to 
draw by; together with a handsome sett of 
Harness for four middle sized Horses or- 
derd in such a manner as to suit either two 
Postilions (without a box) or a box and one 
Postilion. The box being made to fix on, 
and take off occasionally, with a hammel 
Cloth &ca., suitable to the lining. On the 
Harness let my Crest be engravd. 

"If such a Chariot as I have here describd 
cd. be got at 2d. hand little or nothg. the 
worse of wear, but at the same time a good 
deal under the first cost of a new one (and 
sometimes tho perhaps rarely it happens so) , 
it wd. be very desirable; but if I am obligd 
to go near to the origl. cost I wd. even have 
one made; and have been thus particular, in 
hopes of gettg. a handsome Chart, through 
your direction, good taste, and managt.; not 

of Copper however, for these do not stand 
the powerful heat of our sun." 

ONIES (1773) 

"[May] 9. At home all day, Messrs. Ram- 
say, Rumney, and Herbert dind here; the 
last of whom went away, the others stayd 
all Night. 

"10. Those two Gentlemen stayd to Din- 
ner; after which I set out on my journey 
for New York. Lodgd at Mr. Calvert's. 
"11. Breakfasted at Mr. Igns. Digge's. 
Dind at the Coffee Ho. in Annapolis and 
lodgd at the Govr's. 

"12. Dined, Supped and lodgd at the Gov- 

"13. After Breakfast and abt. 8 Oclock, 
set out for Rockhall where we arrived in 
two hours and 2 5 Minutes. Dind on Board 
the Annapolis at Chester Town, and Supped 
and lodged at Ringold's. 
"14. Stopd at George Town on Sassafras, 
and dind and lodgd at Mr. Dl. Heath's. 
"15. Dined at Newcastle and lodged at 

"16. Breakfasted at Chester and Dined at 
Govr. Penn's in Philadelphia. 
"17. Dined again at Govr. Penn's and spent 
the Evening at the Jocky Club. 
"18. Dined with sevl. Gentlemen at our 
own lodgings and went to the Assembly in 
the Evening. 

"19. Dined at the Govr's. and spent the 
Evening at Allan's. 

"20. Dined with Mr. Cadwalader and went 
to the Ball. 

"21. Dined with Mr. Merideth and Spent 
the Evening at Mr. Mease's. 
"22. Dined at Mr. Morris's and Spent the 
Evening at the Club. 

"23. Set out for New York with Lord 
Sterling, Majr. Bayard and Mr. Custis, after 
Breakfasting with Govr. Penn. Dind with 
Govr. Franklin at Burlington and lodgd at 

"24. Breakfasted at Princeton. Dined at 
Bound Brooke, and Reachd Lord Sterling's 
at Basking Bridge in the Afternoon. 
"2 5. Din'd and Lodg'd at Lord Sterling's. 
Drank Tea at Mr. Kimble's. 
"26. Din'd at Elizabeth Town, and reach 'd 
New York in the Evening wch. I spent at 
Hull's Tavern. Lodgd at a Mr. Farmer's. 
"27. Din'd at the Entertainment given by 
the Citizens of New York to GenP Gage. 
"28. Dined with Mr. James Dillancey and 
went to the Play and Hull's Tavern in the 

"29. Dined with Majr. Bayard and Spent 
the Evening with the Old Club at Hull's. 

"30. Dined with Genl. Gage and Spent the 
Evening in my own Room writing. 
"31. Set out on my return home." 


October 12. "I have lately made a tour 
through the Lakes George and Champlain, 
as far as Crown Point. Then returning to 
Schenectady, I proceeded up the Mohawk 
River to Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Stan- 
wix), and crossed over to the Wood Creek, 
which empties into the Oneida Lake, and 
affords the water communication with On- 
tario. I then traversed the country to the 
head of the eastern branch of the Susque- 
hanna, and viewed the Lake Otsego, and 
the portage between that Lake and the Mo- 
hawk River at Canajoharie. Prompted by 
these actual observations, I could not help 
taking a more contemplative and extensive 
view of the vast inland navigation of these 
United States, from maps and the informa- 
tion of others; and could not help but be 
struck with the immense diffusion and im- 
portance of it, and with the goodness of 
that Providence, which has dealt her favors 
to us with so profuse a hand. Would to 
God we may have wisdom enough to im- 
prove them. I shall not rest contented, till 
I have explored the western country, and 
traversed those lines, or great part of them, 
which have given bounds to a new empire." 

"I have it in contemplation to make a 
tour thro' all the Eastern States, thence into 
Canada, thence up the St. Laurence and 
thro' the lakes to Detroit, thence to Lake 
Michigan by land or water, thence through 
the Western Country, by the river Illinois 
to the river Mississippi, and down the same 
to New Orleans, thence into Georgia by the 
way of Pensacola, and then thro' the two 
Carolinas home. A great tour this, you will 
say. Probably it may take place nowhere 
but in imagination, tho' it is my wish to be- 
gin it in the latter end of April of next 


October 5, 1789. "Had conversation 
with Colo. Hamilton on the propriety of 
making a tour through the Eastern States 
during the recess of Congress, to acquire 
knowledge of the face of the Country, the 
growth and agriculture thereof — and the 
temper and disposition of the inhabitants 
towards the new government, who thought 
it a very desirable plan, and advised it ac- 

October 6. "Conversed with Gen. Knox, 
Secretary at War, on the above tour, who 
also recommended it accordingly." 

Washington the Traveler 


October 7. "Upon consulting Mr. Jay on 
the propriety of my intended tour into the 
Eastern States, he highly approved of it, 
but observed, a similar visit w'd be expected 
by those of the Southern." 

October 8. "Mr. Madison took his leave 
today. He saw no impropriety in my trip 
to the eastward; . . ." 

DENT (1789) 

John Quincy Adams to his mother, New- 
buryport, December 5: "I was not one of 
the choir who welcomed the President to 
New England's shore, upon his arrival here 
by land. I was, however, in the procession, 
which was formed here to receive him, in 
humble imitation of the capital. And, 
when he left us, I was one of the respectable 
citizens (as our newspapers term them) who 
escorted him on horseback to the lines of 
New-Hampshire. . . . 

"I had the honour of paying my respects 
to the President upon his arrival in this 
town, and he did me the honour to recol- 
lect that he had seen me a short time at New 
York. I had the honour of spending part 
of the evening in his presence at Mr. Jack- 
son's. I had the honour of breakfasting in 
the same room with him the next morning 
at Mr. Dalton's. I had the honour of writ- 
ing the billet which the major general of 
the county sent him to inform him of the 
military arrangements he had made for his 
reception. And I had the honour of 
draughting an address which, with many 
alterations and additions, commonly called 
amendments), was presented to him by the 
town of Newbury-Port. So you see 

'I bear my blushing honours thick upon 

"But as half the truth is oftentimes a 
great falsehood I am constrained to account 
for these distinctions in a manner which I 
must honestly confess defalcates consider- 
ably from the quantum of my importance. 
To the peculiar civility of Mr. Jackson and 
Mr. Dalton, I am indebted for having been 
thus admitted into the company of the 
President. One of the major general's aid 
de camps is my fellow student; he was then 
much hurried with other business relating 
to the same occasion, and, at his request, I 
wrote the billet. Mr. Parsons was chosen 
by the town to draught the address; and 
his indolence was accomodated in shifting a 
part of the burthen upon his clerk, so that 
all my dignities have not been sufficient to 
elevate me above the insignificant station of 
a school-boy; in which character I still re- 
main, your dutiful son." 


Washington spent the night of Novem- 
ber 6 at the house of Samuel Taft in Ux- 
bridge, and later the following correspond- 
ence took place: 

"Sir, Being informed that you have given 
my name to one of your sons and called an- 

other after Mrs. Washington's family, and 
being, moreover, very much pleased with the 
modest and innocent looks of your two 
daughters Patty and Polly, I do for these 
reasons send each of these girls a piece of 
chintz; and to Patty, who bears the name of 
Mrs. Washington and who waited more 
upon us than Polly did, I send five guineas, 
with which she may buy herself any little 
ornaments she may want, or she may dis- 
pose of them in any other manner more 
agreeable to herself. As I do not give these 
things with a view to have it talked of, or 
even to its being known, the less there is 
said about the matter the better you will 
please me; but that I may be sure that the 
chintz and money have got safe to hand, 
let Patty, who, I dare say, is equal to it, 
write me a line informing me thereof, di- 
rected to 'The President of the United States 
at New York.' I wish you and your family 
well, and am 

"Your humble Servant, 

"Geo. Washington." 

Uxbridge, Dec. 28, 1789 
"May it please your Highness 

"Agreeable to your commands, I, with 
pleasure, inform the President, that, on the 
25 th inst, I received the very valuable pres- 
ent, by the hand of the Revd. Mr. Pond of 
Ashford, you, Sir, were pleased to send me 
and my Sister, accompanied with a letter 
from your benevolent hand, of 8 th ult. 

"The articles mentioned in the letter, viz, 
two pieces of chintz, containing 3 yds, and 
five Guineas, same safely to hand, well seeled. 

"As it was far beyond my deserving, to re- 
ceive such a distinguished mark of your ap- 
probation, so it wholly exceeded my expec- 

"And I want words to express my grati- 
tude to you, Great Sir, for the extraordinary 
favour & honour, conferred on me and our 
family, both, at this time, and while your 
Highness was pleased to honour my Papa's 
house with your presence. I shall endeavour 
to comply with your desires expressed in the 
letter. And, as I have great reason, I shall 
ever esteem and revere the name of him 
whose noble deeds and Patriotism, has laid a 
permanent obligation on all the Sons and 
Daughters of the American Empire ever to 
adore their unequal Benefactor. 

"And my ardent desires are that the best 
of heavens blessings may, both in this and 
in the future world ever rest on the head 
of him who stands at the head of our United 
Empire. My Sister joins with me in the un- 
feigned acknowladgment I've made, likewise 
hon'd Papa and Mama with sincere thank and 
duty desired to be remembred to your High- 
ness. I conclude, resting assured that it's 
wholly unnecessary [to] apologize for the 
incorrectness of the above to him whose 
candour will paliate the want of ability and 
Education in her, who is unacquainted with 
epistolary correspondence, with one of the 

first characters on the Globe — and shall take 
the libity to subscribe myself, May it please 
your Highness, 

"Your sincere & Most ob't 
most humble sev't 

"Mercy Taft. 
"G. Washington, Esq., 

"Pray pardon me sir if I mention the mis- 
take in my name you se, sir, it is not Patty." 


April. 24. "This Island (as far as I went) 
from West to East seems to be equally di- 
vided between flat and Hilly land, the former 
on the South next the Seaboard, and the lat- 
ter on the No. next the Sound. The high- 
land they say is best and most productive, 
but the other is the pleasantest to work, ex- 
cept in wet seasons when from the levelness 
of them they are sometimes, (but not fre- 
quently having a considerable portion of 
Sand) incommoded by heavy and continual 
rains. From a comparative view of their 
crops they may be averaged as follows: — In- 
dian Corn 25 bushels— Wheat 15— Rye 12— 
Oats 1 5 bushels to the acre. According to 
their accts. from Lands highly manured they 
sometimes get 50 of the first, 25 of the 2d 
and 3d, and more of the latter. 

"Their general mode of Cropping is, — first 
Indian Corn upon a lay, manured in the hill, 
half a shovel full in each hole — (some scatter 
the dung over the field equally) — 2d. Oats 
and Flax — 3d. Wheat with what manure 
they can spare from the Indian Corn land — 
with the Wheat, or on it, towards close of 
the Snows, they sow Clover from 4 to 6 lb; 
and a quart of Timothy Seed. This lays 
from 3 to 6 years according as the grass re- 
mains, or as the condition of the ground is, 
for so soon as they find it beginning to 
bind, they plow. Their first plowing 
(with the Patent tho' they call it the 
Dutch plow) is well executed at the 
depth of about 3 or at most 4 inches — 
the cut being 9 or 10 Inches and the 
sod neatly and very evenly turned. With 
Oxen they plough mostly. They do no more 
than turn the ground in this manner for In- 
dian Corn before it is planted; making the 
holes in which it is placed with hoes the rows 
being marked off by a stick — two or three 
workings afterwards with the Harrows or 
Plough is all the cultivation it receives gen- 
erally. Their fences, where there is no Stone, 
are very indifferent; frequently of plashd 
trees of any and every kind which have 
grown by chance; but it exhibits an evidence 
that very good fences may be made in this 
manner either of white Oak or Dogwood 
which from this mode of treatment grows 
thickest, and most stubborn. — This however, 
would be no defence against Hogs." 


Congressman William Loughton Smith of 
South Carolina: "The day after we ad- 
journed, viz., Friday, the 13th [of August], 


Honor to George Washington 

the President of the United States, General 
Washington, who had on that morning re- 
solved to pay a visit to the State of Rhode 
Island in consequence of its accession to the 
Union, did me the honor to invite me to be 
of his party; I could not decline so acceptable 
an invitation, and accordingly sat off with 
his company on Sunday morning, the 15 th, 
on board a Rhode Island packet. We arrived 
at Newport Tuesday morning, after an 
agreeable passage. As we entered the har- 
bour, a salute was fired from the fort and 
some pieces on the wharves; at our landing 
we were received by the principal inhabitants 
of the town, and the clergy, who, forming a 
procession, escorted us through a considerable 
concurse of citizens to the lodgings which 
had been prepared for us; the most respect- 
able inhabitants were there severally pre- 
sented to the President by Mr. Merchant, 
Judge of the District Court. 

"The President then took a walk around 
the town and the heights above it, accom- 
panied by the gentlemen of the party and a 
large number of gentlemen of Newport. We 
returned to our lodgings, and at four o'clerk 
the gentlemen waited again on the President, 
and we all marched in procession to the 
Town Hall or State House, where, while 
dinner was serving up, a number of gentle- 
men were presented. The dinner was well 
dished, and conducted with great regularity 
and decency; the company consisted of about 
eighty persons; after dinner some good toasts 
were drank; among others, following: 'May 
the last be first,' in allusion to Rhode Island 
being the last State which ratified the Con- 
stitution. The President gave the 'Town of 
Newport,' and as soon as he withdrew, Judge 
Merchant gave 'The man we love,' which the 
company drank standing. The company 
then followed the President in another walk 
which he took around the Town: He passed 
by Judge Merchant's and drank a glass of 
wine, and then went to his lodgings, which 
closed the business of the day. I slept in the 
room with Governor Clinton. . . . 

"We have a tedious passage to Providence, 
being seven hours in performing it. The 
same salute took place as at Newport, but 
the procession up to the Tavern was more 
solemn and conducted with much greater 
formality, having troops and music. The 
Governor of the State was so zealous in his 
respects that he jumped aboard the packet 
as soon as she got to the wharf to welcome 
the President to Providence. The President 
with the Governor of the State on his right 
hand and Mr. Forster, a Senator in Congress, 
from Rhode Island, on his left moved in the 
front ranks; then followed Governor Clin- 
ton, Mr. Jefferson (the Secretary of State for 
the United States), Mr. Blair (a judge of 
the Supreme Federal Courts), myself, and 
the three gentlemen of the President's fam- 
ily, viz., Col. Humphreys, Maj. Jackson, and 
Mr. Nelson — who formed the party — after- 
wards followed the principal inhabitants of 
Providence and some from Newport, and 
other citizens making a long file, preceded 

by some troops and music; the doors and 
windows for the length of a mile, were 
crowded with ladies and spectators. When 
we arrived at the tavern (Dagget's) the 
President stood at the door, and the troops 
and the procession passed and saluted. In 
the procession were three negro scrapers 
making a horrible noise. We then sat 
down to a family dinner. After tea, 
just as the President was taking leave 
to go to bed, he was informed by Col. 
Peck (Marshall of the District, who had 
sailed with us from New York) that the stu- 
dents of the College had illuminated it, and 
would be highly flattered at the President's 
going to see it, which he politely agreed to 
do, though he never goes out at night and it 
then rained a little, and was a disagreeable 
night. We made a nocturnal procession to 
the College, which indeed was worth seeing, 
being very splendidly illuminated. . . . 

"Thursday morning began with heavy rain 
and cold easterly wind. It cleared at nine 
o'clock, and then the President, accompanied 
as before, began a walk which continued 
until one o'clock and which completely fa- 
tigued the company which formed his escort. 
We walked all around the Town, visited 
all the apartments of the College, went 
on the roof to view the beautiful and exten- 
sive prospect, walked to a place where a large 
Indiaman of 900 tons was on the stocks, 
went on board her, returned to town, stopped 
and drank wine and punch at Mr. Clarke's, 
Mr. Brown's, Gov. Turner's, and Gov. 
Bowen's, and then returned home. As soon 
as the President was rested he received the ad- 
dresses of the Cincinnati, the Rhode Island 
College, and the Town of Providence, and 
then went immediately to dinner to the 
Town Hall. The dinner consisted of 200 
persons, and an immense crowd surrounded 
the hall. . . . 

"Cannon was fired at each toast; at the 
conclusion of the toasts, the President rose, 
and the whole company, with a considerable 
crowd of citiens, walked down to the wharf, 
where he and his suite embarked for New 


"Wednesday, [March] 23</. Set off at 6 
o'clock — breakfasted at Warwick [Mary- 
land] — bated with hay 9 miles miles farther, 
and dined and lodged at the House of one 
Worrell's in Chester; from whence I sent an 
Express to Rock Hall to have Boats ready for 
me by 9 o'clock to morrow morning; after 
doing which Captn. Nicholson obligingly 
set out for that place to see that every thing 
should be prepared against my arrival. . . . 
"Thursday, 24th. Left Chestertown about 6 
oclock; before nine I arrived at Rock-Hall 
where we breakfasted and immediately; after 
which we began to embark. The doing of 
which employed us (for want of contriv- 
ance) until near 3 o'clock, — and then one of 
my Servants (Paris) and two horses were 

left, nothwithstanding two Boats in aid of 
the two Ferry Boats were procured. Un- 
luckily, embarking on board of a borrowed 
Boat because she was the largest, I was in 
imminent danger, from the unskillfulness of 
the hands, and the dulness of her sailing, 
added to the drakness and storminess of the 
night — for two hours after we hoisted sail 
the wind was light and ahead — the next hour 
was a stark calm — after which the wind 
sprung up at So. Et. and increased until it 
blew a gale — about which time, and after 8 
o'clock P. M. we made the Mouth of Severn 
River (leading up to Annapolis) but the 
ignorance of the People on board, with re- 
spect to the navigation of it run us a 
ground. . . . 

"Friday, 25th. Having lain all night in my 
Great Coat and Boots, in a birth not long 
enough for me by the head, and much 
cramped; we found ourselves in the morning 
within about one mile of Annapolis, and still 
fast aground. Whilst we were preparing our 
small Boat in order to land in it, a sailing 
Boat came of to our assistance in wch. with 
the Baggage I had on board I landed, and re- 
quested Mr. Man at whose Inn I intended 
lodging, to send off a Boat to take off two of 
my Horses and Chariot which I had left on 
board and with it my Coachman to see that 
it was properly done; but by mistake the 
latter not having notice of this order and at- 
tempting to get on board afterwards in a 
small sailing Boat was overset and narrowly 
escaped drowning." 

CIES (1791) 

To the Cabinet, April 4: "As the public 
service may require, that communications 
should be made to me during my absence 
from the seat of government by the most 
direct conveyances, and as, in the event of 
any very extraordinary occurrence, it will 
be necessary to know at what time I may be 
found in any particular place, I have to in- 
form you, that, unless the progress of my 
journey to Savannah is retarded by unfore- 
seen interruptions, it will be regulated, in- 
cluding days of halt, in the following man- 
ner: . . . 

After thus explaining to you, as far as 1 
am able at present, the direction and prob- 
able progress of my journey, I have to ex- 
press my wish, if any serious and important 
cases (of which the probability is but too 
strong) should arise during my absence, that 
the Secretaries for the Departments of State, 
Treasury, and War, may hold consultations 
thereon, to determine whether they are of 
such a nature as to demand my personal at- 
tendance at the seat of government; and, 
should they be so considered, I will return 
immediately from any place at which the in- 
formation may reach me. Or should they 
determine, that measures, relevant to the 
case, may be legally and properly pursued 
without the immediate agency of the Presi- 
dent, I will approve and ratify the measures. 

Washington the Traveler 


which may be conformed to such determina- 

"Presuming that the Vice-President will 
have left the seat of government for Boston, 
I have not requested his opinion to be taken 
on the supposed emergency; should it be 
otherwise, I wish him also to be consulted." 


"Thursday, [April] 7th. ... In attempt- 
ing to cross the ferry at Colchester with the 
four horses hitched to the Chariot by the 
neglect of the person who stood before them, 
one of the leaders got overboard when the 
boat was in swimming water and 5 yards 
from the shore — with much difficulty he 
escaped drowning before he could be disen- 
gaged. His struggling frightened the others 
in such a manner that one after another and 
in quick succession they all got overboard 
harnessed and fastened as they were and with 
the utmost difficult they were saved and the 
Carriage escaped been dragged after them, as 
the whole of it happened in swimming water 
and at a distance from the shore. Providen- 
tially — indeed miraculously — by the exer- 
tions of people who went off in Boats and 
jumped into the River as soon as the Batteau 
was forced into wading water — no damage 
was sustained by the horses, Carriage or 

THE SOUTH (1791) 

Richmond, April 12. "In the course of 
my enquiries, chiefly from Colo. Carrington, 
I cannot discover that any discontents pre- 
vail among the people at large, at the pro- 
ceedings of Congress. The conduct of the 
Assembly respecting the assumption he 
thinks is condemned by them as intemperate 
and unwise; and he seems to have no doubt 
but that the Excise law, as it is called, may 
be executed without difficulty — nay more, 
that it will become popular in a little time. 
His duty as Marshall having carried him 
through all parts of the State lately, and of 
course given him the best means of ascertain- 
ing the temper and disposition of its Inhabit- 
ants, he thinks them favorable towards the 
General Government, and that they only re- 
quire to have matters explained to them in 
order to obtain their full assent to the meas- 
ures adopted by it." 


"Wednesday, 13 th. Fixed with Colo. Car- 
rington (the supervisor of the district) the 
surveys of Inspection for the District of this 
State and named the characters for them, an 
acct. of which was transmitted to the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury." 


"Friday, [April] \5th. Having suffered 
very much by the dust yesterday, and find- 
ing that parties of Horse, and a number of 
other Gentlemen were intending to attend 
me part of the way to day, I caused their 

enquiries respecting the time of my setting 
out, to be answered that, I should endeavor 
to do it before eight o'clock; but I did it a 
little after five, by which means I avoided 
the inconveniences above mentioned." 

MERCE (1791) 

"Sunday, [April] 24th. . . . Wilmington is 
situated on the Cape Fear River, about 30 
miles by water from its mouth, but much 
less by land. It has some good houses pretty 
compactly built. The whole under a hill; 
which is formed entirely of sand. The num- 
ber of Souls in it amount by the enumeration 
to about 1000, but it is agreed on all hands 
that the Census in this State has been very 
inaccurately and Shamefully taken by the 
Marshall's deputies; . . . Wilmington, un- 
fortunately for it, has a Mud bank — miles 
below, over which not more than 10 feet of 
water can be brought at common tides, yet it 
is said vessels of 2 50 Tons have come up. The 
qu'ty. of Shipping, which load here annually, 
amounts to about 1200 Tonns. The exports 
consist chiefly of Naval Stores and lumber. 
Some Tobacco, Corn, Rice, and flax seed 
with Porke. It is at the head of the tide 
navigation, but inland navigation may be ex- 
tended 115 miles farther to and above Fay- 
ettesville which is from Wilmington 90 miles 
by land, and 1 1 5 by Water as above. Fay- 
ettesville is a thriving place containing near 
( ) Souls. 6000 Hhds. of Tobacco and 

3000 Hhds. of Flax Seed have been reed, at 
it in the course of the year." 

ADMIRER (1791) 

"Now let some Shakespear sweep the sound- 
ing lyre 
Or some brave Milton with prophetic fire 
And soar aloft with some new strain sub- 
Beyond the reach of each dull creeping 

From High Olympus let the gods descend, 
And to this poet their assistance lend 
While he in strains heroic sings the fame 
Of Washington and gilds his noble name. 
O let the sacred nine their aid diffuse 
In strains sublime t' inspire his chanting 

And may his song the sleeping echoes raise 
From their soft slumber to resound his 

Till his glorious theme reaches every soul 
From the arctic to the antarctic pole 
But if a genius with such matchless strain 
Cannot be found to sing our Hero's fame 
The Sons of Freedom will I hope excuse 
This imperfect strain from a willing 

muse . . . 
But, to do this, requires a wiser hand, 
And higher strains, than I can now com- 
O, may no trifling bard, with creeping lays 
Ever attempt to sing his matchless praise; 

But may some Milton full of lyric sound 
Whose matchless strain whole nations will 

To sing his praises speedily be found! 
He comes! — He comes! — methinks I see 

him near; 
Now Columbians raise the joyful cheer! 
Ye sons of Freedom who revere his name, 
Beat loud your drums, and sound the 

trump of fame!" 


"Sir, The Mayor and Aldermen of the 
City of Savannah do unanimously concur 
in presenting their most affectionate con- 
gratulations to you on your arrival in this 
city. Impressed with a just sense of your 
great and eminent services to America, per- 
mit us, the Representatives of the City, to 
assure you of the high opinion the citizens 
entertain of your elevated virtues. 

"We respect you as one of the richest and 
most valuable blessings divine goodness has 
bestowed on the People of these United 
States; your presence is an evidence of the 
watchful care you have for every part of 
the extended empire over which you pre- 
side. If we cannot, by external shew, dem- 
onstrate that respect for you which is in the 
power of the more wealthy of our sister 
states to display, yet none estimate your 
merits higher than the People of Georgia. 
The historic page bears record of our suf- 
ferings in the late Revolution, and the 
vestiges of war remain within view of our 
capital; and although peace was, in 1783, 
restored to America, yet Georgia continued 
to suffer under the destructive ravages of an 
Indian war, and it has been reserved for the 
efficiency of the present Government to give 
peace to our state. 

"May the blessings of the Government 
long continue under your administration, 
and may it please the Great Ruler of Events 
to grant you long residence on earth, and 
to length of days add the blessings of un- 
interrupted health, that the advantages of 
the present Government may be perma- 
nently established. 

"Th. Gibbons, Mayor. 

"Council Chamber, May 13, 1791." 


"Tuesday, [September] }0th. Having de- 
termined from the Report of the Commis- 
sioners, who were appointed to meet the 
Insurgents in the Western Counties in the 
State of Pennsylvania, and from other cir- 
cumstances — to repair to the place ap- 
pointed for the Rendezvous of the Militia 
of New Jersey Pennsylvania Maryland and 
Virginia; I left the City of Philadelphia 
about half past ten oclock this forenoon ac- 
companied by Colo. Hamilton (Secretary 
of the Treasury) and my private Secre- 
tary. . . . 

"[October] 4th. Forded the Susquehanna; 
. . . On the Cumberland side I found a 
detachment of the Philadelphia light horse 


Honor to George Washington 

was ready to receive, and escort me to Car- 
lisle 17 miles; where I arrived about 11 
Oclock. Two miles short of it, I met the 
Governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey 
with all the Cavalry that had rendezvoused 
at that time drawn up passed them and the 
Infantry of Pennsylvania before I alighted 
at my quarters. . . • 

"6th to the 12//). Employed in Organiz- 
ing the several detachments, which had 
come in from different Counties of this 
State, in a very disjointed and loose man- 
ner; or rather I ought to have said in urging 
and assisting Genl. Mifflin to do it; as I no 
otherwise took the command of the Troops 
than to press them forward, and to pro- 
vide them with necessaries for their March, 
as well, and as far, as our means would ad- 
mit. . . . 

"16th. After an early breakfast we set out 
for Cumberland — and about 1 1 Oclock ar- 
rived there. 

"Three Miles from the Town I was met 
by a party of Horse under the command of 
Major Lewis (my Nephew) and by Brigr. 
Genl. Smith of the Maryland line, who Es- 
corted me to the Camp; where, finding all 
the Troops under Arms I passed along the 
line of the Army; was conducted to a house 

the residence of Major Lynn of the Mary- 
land line (an old Continental Officer) where 
I was well lodged, and civily entertained. 
"\7th and ISth. Remained at Cumberland, 
in order to acquire a true knowledge of the 
strength — condition — &ca. of the Troops; 
and to see how they were provided, and 
when they could be got in readiness to 
proceed. . . . 

"\9th. In company with Genl. Lee, who I 
requested to attend me, that all the ar- 
rangements necessary for the Army's cross- 
ing the Mountns. in two columns might be 
made; — Their routs, and days Marches fixed, 
that the whole might move in unison — and 
accompanied by the Adjutant General and 
my own family we set out, abt eight oclock, 
for Bedford, and making one halt at the 
distance of 12 Miles, reached it a little after 
4 Oclock in the afternoon being met a little 
out of the Encampment by Govr. Mifflin — 
Govr. Howell — and several other Officers 
of distinction. . . . 

"The Road from Cumberld. to this place 
is, in places, stoney but in other respects not 
bad. It passes through a valley the whole 
way; and was opened by Troops under my 
command in the Autumn of 175 8. The 
whole Valley consists of good farming 

land, and part of it — next Cumberland — is 
tolerably well improved in its culture but 
not much so in Houses. 
"20th. Called the Quarter Master General, 
Adjutant General, Contractor, and others of 
the Staff departmt. before me, and the Com- 
mander in chief, at 9 Oclock this morning, 
in order to fix on the Routs of the two 
Columns and their stages; and to know 
what the situation of matters were in their 
respective departments and when they wd. 
be able to put the Army in motion. Also to 
obtain a correct return of the strength and 
to press the commanding Officers of Corps 
to prepare with all the Celerity in their 
power for a forward movement. 

"Upon comparing accts., it was found 
that the army could be put in motion 23d — 
and it was so ordered, by the Routs which 
will be mentioned hereafter. 

"Matters being thus arranged I wrote a 
farewell address to the Army through the 
Commander in Chief — Govr. Lee — to be 
published in orders — and having prepared 
his Instructions and made every arrange- 
ment that occurred, as necessary I prepared 
for my return to Philadelphia in order to 
meet Congress, and to attend to the Civil 
duties of my Office." 

Alvord, Clarence Walworth — Missis- 
sippi Valley in British Politics. 2 vols. 
Cleveland, Clark, 1917. 

Baker, William S. — Itinerary of General 
Washington from June 15, 1775, to De- 
cember 23, 1783. Philadelphia, Lippin- 
cott, 1892. 

Baker, William S. — Washington after the 
Revolution. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 

Beveridge, Albert J. — Life of John Mar- 
shall. Vol. I. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 
1919. (Especially ch. vii.) 

Brissot De Warville, Jacques Pierre — 
New Travels in the United States, per- 
formed in 1788. 2 vols. London, Jordan, 
1794. (Other eds.) 

Burnaby, Andrew — Travels through the 
Middle Settlements . . . 1759 and 1760. 
London, Payne, 1775. (Other eds.) 

Chadwick, Mrs. French E. — Visit of Gen- 
eral Washington to Newport in 1781 
(Newport Historical Society, Bulletin, 
No. 6). Newport, 1913. 

Chastellux, Francois Jean, Marquis de 
— Travels in North America, in the Years 
1780, 1781, and 1782. Translated by J. 
Kent. 2 vols. London, Robinson, 1787. 
(Other eds.) 

Dunbar, Seymour — History of Travel in 

America. Vol. I. Indianapolis, Bobbs- 
Merrill, 1915. (Especially chs. i-xiii.) 

Earle, Alice Morse — Stage Coach and 
Tavern Days. New York, Macmillan, 

Fitzpatrick, John C. — George Washing- 
ton, Colonial Traveller, 1732-1775. 
Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1927. 

Ford, Worthington Chauncey — George 
Washington. 2 vols. New York, Scrib- 
ner, 1900. 

Gist, Christopher — Journals. Ed. by 
William M. Darlington. Pittsburgh, 
Weldin, 1893. (Other eds.) 

Henderson, Archibald — Conquest of the 
Old Southwest. New York, Century, 

Henderson, Archibald — Washington's 
Southern Tour. Boston, Houghton Mif- 
flin, 1923. 

Hulbert, Archer Butler, ed. — Washing- 
ton and the West. New York, Century, 

Keir, Malcolm — March of Commerce 
(Pageant of America, Vol. IV). New 
Haven, Yale University Press, 1927. 
(Especially ch. iii.) 

Kalm, Peter — Travels into North America. 
Translated by J. R. Forster. 2d ed. 2 vols. 
London, Lowndes, 1772. (Original ed. 
in Swedish of journey in 1748-49.) 

La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Francois 
A. F., Due de — Travels through the 
United States of North America in the 
Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. Translated 
by H. Neuman. 2d ed. 4 vols. London, 
Phillips, 1800. 

May, John — Journal and Letters, relative 
to Two Journeys to the Ohio Country in 
1788 and '89. Cincinnati, Clarke, 1873. 

Thompson, Winfield M. — "When Wash- 
ington toured New England, 1789"; in 
Magazine of History, Vols.XXIII-XXV. 

Twining, Thomas — Travels in America 
One Hundred Years Ago. New York, 
Harper, 1894. (Tour in 1795-96.) 

Washington, George — Diaries, 1748- 
1799. Ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick. 4 
vols. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1925. 
(Contains the journals of the journeys of 
1748, 1751, 1753, 1754, 1770, 1784, 
1789, 1791, 1794, and many of the minor 

Washington, George — Writings. Ed. by 
Worthington Chauncey Ford. 14 vols. 
New York, Putnam, 1889-93. 

Weld, Isaac, Jr. — Travel through the 
States of North America . . . during the 
Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. 3d ed. 2 
vols. London, Stockdale, 1800. 

Pamphlet Number Twelve 

Washiogtoiti the Business Mae 

By Hob, Sol Bloom 


George Washington 

From a painting by Gilbert Sttltirt 


(VIDENCE accumulated in this set 
of Washington Pamphlets con- 
firms the national belief that 
George Washington was the most 
successful American of his century. Gen- 
eral testimony proves that he was so held, 
and posterity calls him a great man of the 
world. Nearly all of these favorable judg- 
ments, however, relate either to Washington 
as a soldier, or to Washington as a statesman. 
Americans are only now beginning to realize 
that the same qualities that made him in- 
dispensable as head of the Continental Army 
and the necessary choice as first President of 

the United States of America, made him also 
a remarkable man of affairs in the colonies 
and the federal republic. A study of his in- 
terest in many lines of business and his suc- 
cess in most of them, will therefore bring 
out his unusual abilities as a practical modern 
spirit without diminishing his greatness as a 
public man. 


The circumstances of practical life in 
America in the eighteenth century were 
very different from those of later times. It 
might be said that Washington crossed an 
economic bridge; for business conditions 

radically changed in his half century of ac- 
tive life; and at the time of his death the 
modern era of commerce and manufacturing 
was beginning. 

In the South, and in considerable areas of 
occupied territory in other parts of the col- 
onies in Washington's time, no roads existed 
in the modern sense. The usual highways 
were beaten tracks with many fords and few 
bridges. Washington lived to see the begin- 
nings of the planked or surfaced turnpikes, 
which were the predecessors of our modern 
highways. Navigation in that period was 
confined to sailing craft, which for ocean 
travel averaged less than 200 tons late in 
Washington's life. Washington was one of 
the first men to realize the possibilities of 
power boats. Down to the Revolution, in 
America as in Europe, nearly all manufac- 
tured goods were made by hand in private 
houses or small shops. Such manufactures 
were carried on at Mount Vernon. About 
the time of Washington's death began the 
period of factories using water power on a 
considerable scale to move machines. 

Washington was in early life accustomed 
to very primitive methods of finance, which 
consisted chiefly in the accounts kept by his 
agents in England, and the bills of exchange 
drawn on them, with an occasional local 
loan. We shall see that he lived to be head 
of a joint stock enterprise and a stockholder 
in banks, and helped to inaugurate the first 
national banking system. His success as a 
business man, therefore, must be placed 
against the background of his own times and 
the business methods of an early community. 
He began life as a cadet of a planter family; 
began to accumulate property before he was 
of age; and made himself a successful busi- 
ness man by sterling honesty, by force of 
character, by forward-looking judgment, by 
capacity to grasp facts and control condi- 

Down to 1775 the business element in 
most of the colonies, especially in the South, 
was overshadowed by the landholder. In 
New England and the middle colonies mer- 
chants or shipowners, such as John Hancock, 
might aspire to enter a high social class of 
recognized families, and to be a power in the 
government of their colonies. Some of them 
founded permanent hereditary fortunes. In 
Washington's part of the country there were 
few wealthy men except the large landown- 
ers into whose fellowship Washington was 
born. To be sure a small class of wealthy 



Honor to George Washington 

merchants and shipowners was growing up 
even in some of the southern ports, particu- 
larly Charleston and Savannah, but most of 
the holders of large wealth owned inherited 
acres and formed a landed aristocracy. One 
reason for the success of the great Revolu- 
tionary movement was that the Virginia 
planters mostly joined the democratic move- 
ment for independence. In the Revolution, 
therefore, Washington was politically on the 
same side as his immediate friends and neigh- 
bors. Yet he had the force to win the con- 
fidence of the canny merchant classes of 
New England and the middle colonies. 


According to modern doctrines of heredity 
the business sagacity of Washington was pre- 
sumably in part a matter of descent. In his 
direct line, father to son, seven generations 
back, appeared Lawrence Washington, mayor 
of Northampton, England. Lawrence 
Washington's father had married Margaret 
Kitson, sister of the great Sir Thomas Kit- 
son, who was a kind of Henry Ford of his 
time. Kitson developed a great and profit- 
able business in fish; and hence his arms bear 
three fish. He also developed a large busi- 
ness in wool, with the intention of furnish- 
ing the raw material on English soil and en- 
couraging its weaving into cloth of English 

Kitson's nephew, Lawrence, mayor of 
Northampton, acquired in 1538 by royal 
grant (not without payment of smart 
fees) a portion of the recently confiscated 

landed estates of the Priory of St. Andrew in 
Northampton, which were sequestrated by 
Henry VIII. Among them was the estate 
of Sulgrave, which for some years was the 
seat of George Washington's direct ancestors. 
His great-grandfather, the immigrant John, 
also showed remarkable ability, became a 
sailor and a trader and made voyages to the 
West Indies and eventually Virginia. His 
sons and grandsons acquired considerable 
estates and George, through the early death 
of his halfbrother, Lawrence, came into pos- 
session of a handsome portion of his father's 
landed property. From his youth up there- 
fore Washington associated with men who 
had wealth, increased it, and transmitted it. 
Fortune favored George Washington. It 
placed in his hands large opportunities of 
testing his talents of organization, super- 
vision, record, and willingness to try new 


Washington's business capacity was evi- 
dent long before the Revolution and in the 
first stages of the accumulation that made 
him one of the wealthiest Americans of his 
time, at least in land values, he was aided 
by his marriage. When nearly 27 years old 
he married a wealthy woman, heir, with her 
two children, to the property of the de- 
ceased Daniel Parke Custis, embracing plan- 
tations, a town house, slaves, livestock, and 
household and farm equipment, besides more 
liquid resources. The Custis wealth has per- 

haps been overestimated, but the portion of 
it in funds which came to Washington as 
part of his wife's dower, was evidently the 
means by which he began to enlarge his land 
holdings at Mount Vernon and elsewhere. 
Throughout his life his income came chiefly 
from the returns of his farms and interest 
on bonds which constituted a large part of 
the financial business of Virginia at that 
time. These returns were the basic capital 
of his other business ventures. 

The records of the Custis estate are no 
longer available, but according to an entry 
under probable date of 1759, each of the 
two children had about $3 3,000, and it has 
been supposed that Mrs. Washington's share 
was the same. Evidently this did not in- 
clude the landed property. Washington's 
letters to his agents in England refer to the 
division of the estate. He informed an 
agent in 1762 that the Bank of England 
stock of a par value of £1,6 50 had been allo- 
cated to Patsy. There is no evidence in the 
writings of any investment abroad except 
this bank stock, or of any tobacco being 
shipped on Patsy's account. In the absence 
of exact figures it seems likely that there 
was no division of the estate into equal 
thirds of personal and real property, but it 
has been estimated that Washington's 
eventual share, as his wife's third in the 
estate, was about $100,000 measured by the 
specie standard of the time. He was a 
prudent administrator and the value of his 
wards' estates, as well as his own, increased 
in his hands. 

Part II 
Washington's Business 


Washington had a neat and methodical 
mind; he was an early example of economic 
efficiency. He recognized the value of 
records, and to that recognition we owe the 
great body of material available upon his 
career and its share in the history of the 
country. This bent of mind was shown as 
early as 1748, when he began to keep an ex- 
pense account and in the early establishment 
of the diary habit. Washington's account 
books are valuable not only as a personal 
record, but also as source material for eco- 
nomic study. 

Rigorous commercial bookkeeping, like 
that of today, was not one of the ac- 
complishments of the colonial Americans. 
Even heavy merchants like John Hancock 
were satisfied with direct records. The so- 
called Italian system of double-entry book- 
keeping appears to have been little known 
in the colonies. There were no banks, few 
insurance companies, very few commercial 
corporations; and, notwithstanding a very 

extensive credit system, both wholesale and 
retail, the usual books of account were 

Washington's strong sense of system en- 
abled him to summarize his yearly financial 
condition, though it does not appear that 
he classified his minor expenses with abso- 
lute exactness. He kept an elaborate sys- 
tem of classified accounts for his farm ac- 
tivities; and tobacco, weaving, fishing, and 
other definite industries were debited and 
credited in separate accounts, as illustrated 
by the table given below. 

Washington carried out a simple but ef- 
fective system of records of all cash trans- 
actions and was very careful to obtain legal 
documents for payments made by him. He 
never "kept books" in the modern sense, 
but throughout his life, besides many finan- 
cial entries in his diaries, he kept a series 
of little books of original entry of cash 
transactions, later transferred to the ledg- 
ers, which reveal his habits of life. He was 
a generous man and his books abound in 
such entries as the following: 

"By Cash gave a Soldiers wife 5/;" 
"Gave a man who had his House Burnt 
£1. ;" "By a begging woman /$;" "By 
Charity to an invalid wounded Soldier who 
came from Redston with a petition for 
Charity 18/;" "Delivd to the President to 
send to two distress'd french women at 
Newcastle $2 5;" "By Madame de Seguer a 
french Lady in distress gave her $50;" "By 
subscription paid to Mr. Jas. Blythe towards 
erecting and Supporting an Academy in the 
State of Kentucky $100;" "By Charity sent 
Genl Charles Pinckney in Columbus Bank 
Notes, for the sufferers by the fire in Char- 
leston So. Carolina $300;" "By an annual 
Donation to the Academy at Alexandria 
pd. Dr. Cook $166.67;" "By Charity to the 
poor of Alexandria deld. to the revd. Dr. 
Muir $100." 

He was particularly regardful of the 
members of his own family, and he recorded 
various loans to his kindred, which were 
eventually transferred into gifts. The diary 
accounts of his visits to his mother at 
Fredericksburg are often paralleled by an 

Washington the Business Man 


expense account showing that he presented 
her with money. He never denied a loan 
to a friend if he had the cash on hand. There 
is no end to these minor entries of occa- 
sional expense for a multitude of purposes, 
which bring into relief a daily life of great 
variety of interests and amusements. 


This variety of Washington's payments 
and the minuteness of his accounts may be 
illustrated by a few extracts from his ledg- 
ers and diaries. For example: "By a year's 
and 3 Months Ferriage at ye lower Ferry on 
Rappaoppe [Rappahanock], my Mothers. 
12s. 6d." "To my Burgesses Wages untill 
the adjournment in Octr. Sessions — viz 54 
days @ 15/ £40.10." "To 12 traveling 
days — to and from Do, @ ... Do. £9." 
"To Ferriages going and coming over Occo- 
quan, Rappahannock and Paraunky 
£1.17.9." "Dancing Master — Mackay for 
Childn. £1." "To washing while Quar- 
tered in Alexandria £1.13.3." "To gave 
away at Edward Thompson's 3/9." 

"By a Chr. [chariot] bot. of Mr. P. Clai- 
borne Mr. Braxton's £50." "Surgn. Dentist 
£4.0.0.:" "By Dinners & Clubs thereat, at 
Mrs. Campbell's during my stay in Willms- 
burg £7.7.6." "By Mrs. Charltons Acct. 
against Miss Custis 16s. 3d. By Ditto for 
Mrs. Washington 16s. Od. By Ditto for 
my board there since the 1st of March . 
£11.0.0." "Mr. Robinson's Servants £1.4.0." 
"By Ditto for a Ticket to ye Assembly 
7/6." "By Cash to my Nurse £1.0.0." 
This last was the soldier who attended him 
in the illness just before Braddock's defeat. 

Almost the only knowledge that we have 
of his journey to Boston in 1756 comes 
from his account books, which disclose the 
route as well as evidence of his social ac- 

February 15-20. New York City. 

"By Cash for my Club at Tavn. 5/l. for 
treatg. Ladies to ye Mi[crocos]m £1.8.0. 
At Mrs. Baron's Rout 6/ Club at Willets 
4/2 . . . treating Ladies to ye Microcosm 
£1.4.0 ... Mr. Robinson's Servts. £1.8.6 
. . . lost at cards 8/. Gave to Servants on 
ye Rd. 10/'." 

His election expenses in 1771 at Alex- 
andria are also enlightening: 

"Went up to the Election and the Ball 
I had given at Alexa. Mr. Crawford and 
Jno. P. Custis with me. Stayd all Night." 

"Dec. 19 By Mr. Arroll Balle. 

of Acct. to this date £ 15 12 — 

By Mr. Lomax getting a Sup- 
per at My Ball the Night 

of Election 4. 7. 8 

By Mr. William Shaw pro- 

vidg. Sundries &ca. for ye 

Election & Ball & his own 

Trouble 4. 1. 9 

By Mr. Piper's Charles playg. 

Fiddle 12. 

1772, May 18. 'By Mrs. Young 

for cakes at ye last Electn. £ 1. 9. 8.'" 

Lotteries were a regular occurrence in 
those days, many of them for religious and 
educational purposes. Washington took 
his share of such chances and records the 
result, often with dry humor. In 1766 he 
"invested" in the York Lottery; and in 1775 
two of the six tickets he held in the land 
lottery in Ulster County, New York, were 
"fortunate." He recorded another trans- 
action as "By profit & loss in two chances 
in raffling for encyclopadia Bretannica, 
which I did not win, 1£ 4 shillings." 

His diaries and cash books are full of en- 
tertaining out-goes. "To ye Club of a bot- 
tle of Rhenish at Mitchells 1£ 3 shillings." 
— "By Ball[ance] I never expected 2. 5. 2." 
"I got Nation's Estate Appraisd by Messrs. 
McCarty, Barry and Triplet, — as follows, 

One old Gun and Lock. . . . 7-6 

1 Small Bell 2-6 

1 Suit of Cloaths, viz. 
a Coat Waist't Breechs 
Shirt, Hat, Shoes & 


A Small Parcel of Leather. . . 1 
On the last day of 1769 he noted: "By 
Cash lost, Stolen, or paid away without 
charging £143.15.2." What looks like a 
very unhumanitarian entry refers not to a 
man but to a weapon: "To Cash paid Mr. 
Lewis for a Baby and 2 doz. Gun Flints 

A class of expenditures of which there 
were several during his life, is the following 
in 1772: 
"By Mr. P e a 1 e Painter, 

Drawg. my Picte. £18.4.0 
Miniature Do. for 

Mrs. Washingtn. 
Ditto Do. for Miss 

Ditto Do. for Mr. 




13. £57.4.0" 


These simple records enabled him to judge 
whether a particular commercial transaction 
or product was profitable. Hence he was 
one of the earliest Virginia planters to realize 
that tobacco was an exhausting and, there- 
fore, an unprofitable crop. He finally 
abandoned it entirely at the Mount Vernon 
farms and substituted the cultivation of 
other crops, particularly wheat. An example 
of the accounts of the special industries al- 
ready mentioned are pictured in a general 
statement for the whole Mount Vernon 
estate, as in the form, item by item, shown 
in the following extract from his books: 

"balance of gain and loss, 

Dr. gained. 

Dogue Run Farm 397.11. 2 

Union Farm 529.10.11 J^ 

River Farm 234. 4.11 

Smith's Shop 34.12. 9'/ 2 

Distillery 83.13. 1 

Jacks 56. 1 

Traveller (stud horse) 9.17 

Shoemaker 28.17. 1 

Fishery 165.12. 0% 

Dairy 30.12. 

Cr. lost. 

Mansion House 466.18.2^2 

Muddy Hole Farm 60. 1.3 / 2 

Spinning 51. 2.0 

Hire of head overseer 140. 0.0 

By Clear gain on the Estate £898.16.414" 

Thus in one direction Washington adopted 
a method of financial records little practiced 
then on a large scale even among prosperous 
merchants. He developed an analytic book- 
keeping system with regard to his great 
landed estate. His habit (not carried out 
every year) of keeping his accounts so that 
he could distinguish payments and receipts 
from each of the farms that together consti- 
tuted Mount Vernon, enabled him to record 
the crops that were planted in each of these 
subdivisions and to follow out the results 
for each crop on each of the associated 
farms. This practice gave him a control 
possessed by few planters over the causes of 
loss on a particular crop, or on a particular 
plantation, and recorded gains on another. 
Hence he knew where to stop and where to 
go forward. He substituted a rational, 
understandable record for the guesses and 
repetitions of unprofitable methods which 
were often the bases of farm methods of 


In provincial days at least, his financial 
system was essentially one of English ac- 
counts, long credit, orders against his pre- 
sumed balance, and bills of exchange. Even 
after he ceased shipping tobacco to Europe 
and sent flour and fish to the West Indies 
instead, payment was in orders or bills on 
England. It is not easy under such condi- 
tions to suppose that he possessed much 
ready money, yet the items given above from 
his accounts suggest the presence of an ade- 
quate cash balance, and a very characteristic 
entry of 1772 reproduced in facsimile on 
the next page shows that he sometimes had 
considerable amounts of cash on hand, in- 
cluding a variety of colonial paper money. 

Naturally the question arises as to what 
were the sources of supply for the payment 
of his bills and for his ready cash? First in 
importance came his farms. No summary 
has been found of his total investments in 
land purchases or buildings or betterments 
of the property previous to his will of 1799. 
Even as late as that date it is probable that, 
in spite of large holdings, almost all the 
income came from Mount Vernon and a few 
other places east of the Alleghenies. The 
York River dower property had been sold; 
but there were some 8,000 other acres in 
Virginia and Maryland, a portion of which 
was under cultivation. He had an uncer- 
tain income from his fisheries adjacent to 
his property and from a ferry. The Dismal 


Honor to George Washington 

Swamp drainage enterprise seems to have 
brought him a profit in his lifetime; and 
some unsold lands in that property were a 
part of his estate at his death. He sold land 
from time to time and a portion of the 
proceeds paid debts or current expenses. 

He held some bonds though evidently 
none at the end of his life, except the federal 
issue mentioned below. Occasionally he 

Besides this federal stock at the end of 
his life he held shares in the Potomac Com- 
pany, in the James River Company, and in 
the Columbia and Alexandria banks. The 
river-improvement stock brought him per- 
sonally no income, that of the Potomac was 
a dead loss to the estate. The bank holdings 
were small, and belonged to the late period 
of his life. 


*-9 -tgtU . 6 

'iX-^i, _ 

. s-. s: 




frU^yJ? Qc&IU*-, Zs/j 1% -J- q 


'Z'fi-S --^7- /OG&f &> 

S-./3. 1 



made loans on mortgages or otherwise, but 
if one may judge correctly from his writings 
these were more fruitful of trouble than 
income, resulting in some cases in his taking 
over the land or chattel. His loans were 
never those of a professional money lender, 
but he could be sharp when he considered 
that the condition justified it. Thus in 1799 
he wrote a debtor: "I am in extreme want of 
the money which you gave me a solemn 
promise I should receive the first of Janu- 
ary last; and secondly — that however you 
may have succeeded in imposing upon, and 
deceiving others, you shall not practice the 
like game with me with impunity." 

Like all moneyed men of his time, he 
suffered very severe losses through the de- 
preciation of paper, so that a nominal $50,- 
000 of loans made in Virginia colonial cur- 
rency when realized sank to a capital of 
about $6,000 in federal bonds. 


His most interesting investment was the 
£16 50 in stock of the Bank of England. 
As we have seen this was a portion of the 
Custis estate, allocated to Patsy. On her 
death in 1773 it was equally divided between 
her brother and mother; Washington's share 
of the dividend during the next two years 
was collected by his English agent and made 
a portion of the general accounts, of which 
the balance was usually against Washington. 
After the Revolution broke out, and the 
guardianship of young Custis terminated, 
Washington took over the rest of the bank 
stock in order that all of the loss due to the 
rebellion might fall upon himself. It is a 
striking tribute to the Governor and Com- 
pany of the Bank of England that they 
continued to pay dividends after Washington 
had become a public enemy of the British 

Government, perhaps because, as Prussing 
suggests, he was not an alien enemy but 
only a rebel, probably because the stock was 
not in his name on the books of the bank, 
but in that of his wife as administratrix. 
The English agents collected the dividends 
during the war, placed them to Washing- 
ton's account and charged against them the 
interest due through Washington's unfavor- 
able balance, but also credited interest on 
the assets in their hands, which were chiefly 
Custis items. After the war Washington 
sold the stock and paid his "British debt." 


Washington's business acumen was not 
limited in its practice to his own affairs, nor 
to the guardianship of his wife's children. 
He gave freely of his time and knowledge 
to his neighbors and friends; and before the 
Revolution shared as executor in the man- 
agement of various estates, and served also 
as arbitrator in property disputes. In stating 
the difficulties in granting the request that 
he undertake the guardianship of John 
West's son, Washington wrote in 1775: 
". . . two things are essentially necessary in 
the Man to whom this charge is committed. 
A Capacity of judging with propriety, of 
Measures proper to be taken in the Govern- 
ment of a youth; and leizure sufficient to 
attend the Execution of these Measures. 
That you are pleased to think favorably of 
me, in respect to the first, I shall take for 
granted, from the request you have made, 
but to shew my incapacity of attending to 
the latter with that good faith which I 
think every man ought to do, who under- 
takes a trust of this Interesting nature, I 
can solemnly declare to you, that for this 
year or two past, there has been scarce a 
Moment that I can properly call my own: 
For what with my own business, my present 
Wards, My Mothers (which is wholely in 
my hands), Colo. Colvills, Mrs. Savages, 
Col. Fairfax's, Colo. Mercers (for Colo. 
Tayloe though he accepted of the Trust 
jointly with myself, seems no ways inclined 
to take any part of the Execution of it), 
and the little Assistance I have undertaken 
to give in the management of my Brother 
Augustines Affairs (for I have absolutely 
refused to qualify as an Executor) keeps 
me, together with the share I take in publick 
Affairs, constantly engaged in writing Let- 
ters, Settling Accts., and Negotiating one 
piece of business or another in behalf of one 
or other of these Concerns; by which means 
I have really been deprivd of every kind of 
enjoyment, and had almost fully resolved, 
to engage in no fresh matter, till I had 
entirely wound up the old." 

On January 2 5, 1771, he spoke of being at 
Dumfries "in a very disagreeable arbitration 
which I suppose will keep me till sometime 
in next week." These affairs gave him 
much trouble, but he considered them with 
the same care that he did his own business. 
An evidence of this is in an entry in his 

Washington the Business Man 


diary, January 8, 1772, respecting his joint 
executorship in the Savage matter: 

"Engaged to advance by, or at the April 
General Court for the use of Mr. Bryan 
Fairfax £150, or thereabouts, to discharge 

the Balle of his Bond to Doctr. Savage. Also 
promised, if I could, to take up a Bill of 
Excha. of about £160 Sterg. with Intt. 
thereon at the same time; In consideration 
of which he has given me a Memm. at the 

prices there Stipulated in case I like them, 
or either of them upon examination thereof 
within Months from this day. If not, he 
is then to become my Debtor for these two 

Part III 


The first established permanent business 
of the Washington family was that of clear- 
ing Virginia land until sufficient soil could 
be exposed to make crops possible, particu- 
larly tobacco, the great export crop for 
many years. After tobacco culture was 
prohibited in England in 1652, it became 
almost a monopoly product in the southern 

John Washington and his sons, grandsons, 
and great-grandsons undertook the never- 
ending process of clearing the land. That 
meant the destruction of vast and noble 
forests, little or no part of which could be 
exported. Some of this was used in build- 
ing houses, fences, and shelters for stock. 
Eventually the native timber furnished part 
of the material of spacious mansions, sug- 
gested by the "great houses" in England. 

Down to the time of Washington's birth, 
there were no cities in the South and few 
towns. The commercial towns as they arose 
were on waters which could be navigated 
from the sea. For the small planters, espe- 
cially on tidewater, the store was the sales 
agency for surplus products, and the nearest 
approach to a bank, through its credit facili- 
ties. The towns of these local stores grew 
up around the tobacco warehouses built 
under the colonial inspection act, which 
regulated the export of the staple. Alex- 
andria and Dumfries originated in this man- 
ner. Washington's letters refer to the in- 
spection: "I have got 4 more inspected and 
all on Float ready to deliver at the Ships 
side"; and again, "It will appear by our 
Inspectors that my Tobacco was delivered 
in good order." 

Washington bought from local stores, 
sometimes paying cash, and also bought on 
book accounts, settled from time to time. 
In a letter to Matthew Campbell, a merchant 
at Alexandria, August 7, 1772, Washington 
showed his attitude on patronizing his neigh- 
bor: "I was not lead to enquire into the 
price of the Goods I had purchased of you 
already, and might hearafter take from any 
thing that passed between us at the time I 
offered to discontinue my own Importations 
(upon Condition I could get my Goods at 
nearly what they would cost to Import them 
myself). I very well remember that noth- 
ing conclusive passd between you and me 
on that occasion; . . . If . . . you still 
think proper to let me have the Goods I 

may find occasion to buy in the Country 
at 2 5 pr. Ct. Sterling advance upon the 
genuine Cost dischargeable at the Curr'y 
exchange I will confine my whole Country 
dealings to your Store and will endeavour 
to thro the Wages which I pay to hirelings 
into your hands also; provided you will let 
me know upon what certain reasonable ad- 
vance they can have their Goods (upon the 
strength of my Credit) for unless they can 
deal with you upon better terms than with 
others I should not think myself justifyable 
in attempting to influence their choice, and 
this knowledge I must come at in order that 
I may convince them (if satisfied myself) 
of the propriety of the Measure." 


As a man of affairs, Washington's im- 
mediate and continuous business was that of 
managing a plantation. Once settled in 
Mount Vernon he gradually increased the 
property so that he had a group of five 
farms under his ownership and management. 
The evidence with regard to his manage- 
ment of that large estate is abundant. 
Upon no agricultural enterprise of the time 
have we such detailed information as to the 
plans and the results of Washington's agri- 
cultural management. We have his accounts 
and a correspondence which included many 
letters on farm affairs. 

Probably no agricultural proprietor in the 
English colonies and the later United States 
made such efforts to avail himself of the 
scientific knowledge of his time. He bought 
numerous English works on agriculture. He 
was long in correspondence with Arthur 
Young, the English agricultural reformer. 
He invented a plow and was not much dis- 
turbed when it failed to meet his expecta- 
tions. He contrived something closely ap- 
proaching our modern seed drills. 

He appears to have been the most im- 
portant large proprietor to practice scientific 
diversification of crops. He raised wheat 
when the land would no longer carry good 
crops of tobacco, and the marketing of that 
staple became uneconomic. Then he ran a 
mill to grind his wheat, and accepted cus- 
toms grinding. Later he built a distillery 
to make available his raw materials. In fact, 
the Mount Vernon property was a sort of 
confederation of farms with their appurte- 
nances of orchards and farm buildings, farm 

roads, quarters for the slaves, and houses for 
the hired white men and the redemptioners 
or indentured servants bound to serve a 
stipulated number of years in payment of 
their passage money from Europe. Besides 
his main estate he had some outside farm 
properties, especially the Bullskin Plantation, 
and during ante-bellum days the dower es- 
tate on York River. 

But Mount Vernon was his home, his main 
source of revenue, and his chief delight. 
There, also, his engineering instincts had 
full opportunity of action, for he was fre- 
quently out with his surveying instruments 
estimating drainage possibilities, running his 
boundary lines over again, or checking up 
those of newly acquired land. On the 
border line between one of his plantations 
and that of Thomson Mason can still be 
seen two parallel lines of ditching about 
fifteen yards apart. These — referred to in 
his will — are said to mark an amicable con- 
troversy between the two neighbors. By 
mutual agreement each dug a ditch five feet 
wide on what he supposed to be the proper 
line. The space between remained a "no 
man's land," left to be adjusted by the 
heirs of the parties. 

When the Revolutionary War broke out, 
Washington had brought the Mount Vernon 
estate into a productive and profitable con- 
dition. But from 1775 to 1783, and again 
from 1789 to 1797, he spent most of his 
time away from his estates and was obliged 
to depend upon overseers and estate man- 
agers. His experience of those men is 
summed up in a paragraph written in 1793 
in one of the many letters of instruction 
which he wrote during his presidency to the 
successive managers of his estate: 

"To treat them civilly is no more than 
what all men are entitled to, but, my advice 
to you is, to keep them at a proper distance; 
for they will grow upon familiarity, in 
proportion as you will sink in authority, if 
you do not. — Pass by no faults or neglects 
(especially at first) for overlooking one only 
serves to generate another, and it is more 
than probably that some of them (one in 
particular) will try, at first, what lengths 
he may go. — A steady and firm conduct, 
with an inquisitive inspection into, and a 
proper arrangement of everything on your 
part, will, though it may give trouble at 
first, save a great deal in the end . . ." 

One of the main items in the cost of the 


Honor to George Washington 

plantation was the amount of the proprie- 
tor's time and attention when he was man- 
aging the property himself and the losses 
due to the stupidity and disobedience of 
orders by the overseers. The story of the 
round barn is a comment upon the diffi- 
culties of managing overseers. The round 
barn, which appears to have been actually 
twelve or possibly sixteen sided, had a 
threshing floor indoors, and great was Wash- 
ington's wrath on one occasion to find that 
the grain had been thrown out of the barn 
onto the ground and was being trodden out 
by horses in the old wasteful manner. He 
wrote his stepson in 1776: "I have no doubt 
myself, but that middling land under a 
man's own eye, is more profitable than rich 
land at a distance." 


Washington's agricultural system was in 
advance of his age though it is questionable 
whether he had much direct or contempor- 
ary influence. The German farmers of 
Pennsylvania and the Valley followed many 
of his principles and probably Washington 
was acquainted with their methods. Land 
was still too cheap for extensive farming. 
Jefferson's belief that it was better to ex- 
haust the land and then move on was more 
in the spirit of the age. But considered in 
its relation to agricultural history, the 
Mount Vernon estate was an important proj- 
ect, and even more important as illustrating 
the character of its cultivator. 

The five farms were all under cultivation. 
He also exercised a remarkable business 
sagacity in the well-organized system which 
is emphasized in this pamphlet. He applied 
to the estate of Mount Vernon the principles 
of division of labor, of the use of export 
laborers, of caring for the sick, and in gen- 
eral of making the laborers on the estate 
comfortable and contented, which are a part 
of the best factory practice of our own 

The farsightedness of Farmer Washington 
was shown by his establishment of what 
was in effect an agricultural experiment 
station, perhaps the only one in the United 
States at his time, as has been shown in the 
pamphlet on Washington the Farmer; while 
his system of accounting made it possible 
to keep track of the financial results of his 


One of the most interesting episodes in 
Washington's relations with labor was his 
employment of James Bloxham as head 
farmer of the Mount Vernon complex — a 
transaction described in another pamphlet 
of this series. Through Arthur Young, he 
secured this real English bailiff, and in 1786 
brought him over "to live with and super- 
intend my farming business" under the title 
"Farmer and Manager." In a letter of 1787 
Washington complained of Bloxham that: 
"in a word he seems rather to have expected 

to have found well organized farms, than 
that the end and design of my employing 
him was to make them so." Bloxham, how- 
ever, was much respected by his employer, 
who kept him on for several years. 

Bloxham's side of the relation appears in 
a letter much less widely known. A portion 
of this is given in the earlier pamphlet; in 
addition he complained: "things are verey 
Desagreable to Do Bisness it is impossable 
for any man to Do Bisness in any form the 
Genral have a Bout 2 5 hundrd akers of Clear 
Land under is on ocyping. Ther is nothing 
agreble about on the plase which I can not 
Do no Bisnss form nor no Credet but I 
have you send the plow And the Seeds which 
the Genearel will send for to you and send 
half a Dosen of Good Clean made Shupicks 
[spades] for they have nothing but woodon 
forks I have got one or two made but in 
a very bad manner that I should be glad 
if you would not for this Contey is verey 
pore and there is no chance for any Body 
to Do any god and I should be glad if you 
and my Brother Thomas would See if these 
velins would Com to any terms [Bloxham 
left debts in England] or I would go to any 
part of Englun to be out of thare way But 
this Countruy will not Do for me but to 
Be Shore what the General have offered in 
wages is quite Well he Gives for this year 
we have a Gred for 50 English ginnes per 
yeare and Bord and washing and Lodging 
and if I Would send for my wife and famly 
he would alow me ten Ginnes towards thare 
Coming to this Contry an if I would Stay 
and to alow me 8 hundard weight of flower 
and 6 hundred Wait of pork and Bef and to 
alow me two milche Cows for the youse of 
my family and to low me a Sow to Bree[d] 
Som pigs for my own yous but Not to Sell 
and to alow me a Comfortable house to Live 
in. . . . But my wife may youse ore one 
will A Bout Comming over. ... I hope 
that the Sun will Shine upon me wonce more 
the general have some very [good?] laynd 
But badly manedge and he never well have 
them no better for he have a Sett About 
him which I nor you would be troubled with 
But the General is goot them and he must 
keep them but they are a verey Desagreable 
People and I will leave the Contey But I 
Should be glad of answer Immedatly to 
know how afares Stand and then I sail be a 
better Judge of the matter ... I have 
whent thro a greatt Dele Since I laft 


Throughout his life, Washington was the 
head of large organizations which made use 
of human strength of body and mind. The 
owner of a plantation was in much the same 
situation as the captain of a ship at sea. 
The object of the sailor driver and of the 
plantation driver alike was to get as much 
as possible of muscular exertion out of the 
workers at the least cost of support. The 
shipmaster had to pay wages besides feeding 
and keeping up his men. The plantation 

owner nominally got his labor without pay- 
ing wages; but after he had fed and clothed 
the slaves, provided for their housing, and 
suffered from deaths and illness, immaturity 
and age, malingering and runaways, his la- 
bor was really costly. A profit came to the 
slave owners through the growing up of 
young slaves to the point where they could 
be worked or marketed; but much of that 
gain was offset. 

Washington hired employees for various 
tasks on the farm. His numerous building 
operations and repairs brought in skilled 
white workmen. In his diary he notes that 
"Three Carpenters belonging to the Estate 
of Colo. Steptoe (hired of Jas. Hardige 
Lane) at £7 pr. Month) come to work 
here." He had a succession of overseers or 
managers on the York River farms and 
those on the Rappahannock. In 1773 he 
wrote: "This day agreed with my Overseer 
[William] Powell, at the lower Plantation 
on Rappah., to continue another year on the 
same lay as the last, provided the number 
of hands are not Increasd; but, if I should 
add a hand or two more, and let him (as I 
am to do at any rate) choose 5 of the best 
Horses at that Quarter and the upper one, 
he is in that case to receive only the 8 th 
of what Corn, Wheat, and Tobo. he makes 
on the Plantation." 


Throughout the eighteenth century a 
traffic in what was practically white slavery 
went on, especially in the middle colonies 
and Virginia. Normally the immigrants 
agreed that for their passage over from 
Europe they were liable to give service for 
seven years to anyone who would pay their 
passage money. Those who survived the 
horrors of the voyage and the chattel serv- 
ice, founded families. Washington had such 
white servants among his laborers, mostly 
artisans. In 1775 he offered a reward of 
forty dollars for the return of a joiner and 
brickmaker who had run away. 

With regard to an importation from Ger- 
many, he wrote in 1784: "I am informed 
that a ship with Palatines is gone up to 
Baltimore, among whom are a number of 
tradesmen. I am a good deal in want of a 
house joiner and brick-layer who really 
understand their profession, and you would 
do me a favor by purchasing one of each for 
me, if to be had, I would not confine you 
to Palatines; if they are good workmen, they 
may be from Asia, Africa or Europe; they 
may be Mahometans, Jews or Christians of 
any sect, or they may be Atheists. I would, 
however, prefer middle aged to young men, 
and those who have good countenances, and 
good characters on ship board, to others who 
have neither of these to recommend them; 
altho' after all, I well know, the proof of 
the pudding must be in the eating. I do 
not limit you to a price, but will pay the 
purchase money on demand." 

Washington the Business Man 



Washington was born into a slave-owning 
family and early became the owner of slaves, 
who were the "Desagreable People" of Blox- 
ham's letter. Slave holding began with the 
enslavement of Indian captives by the 
various colonies, was shortly simplified by 
the bringing over of African slaves, and 
was legal in Virginia for more than sixty 
years after Washington's death. 

The profits of Mount Vernon, never very 
large, were due chiefly to slave labor; but 
Washington was one of the small number of 
southern slave holders at that time who felt 
that slavery was an unnatural institution. 
There were few antislavery men and women 
in the United States in 1799; but that one 
who lived in Mount Vernon tested his con- 
victions in his will by ordering that the 
slaves held in his own right should be set 
free after Mrs. Washington's death. The 
dower slaves were on a different footing. 
He left money for annuities to slaves who 
could not support themselves, some of which 
continued for nearly forty years. George 
Washington and John Randolph were among 
the few blueblood Virginians holding large 
numbers of slaves who at any epoch hated 
slavery sufficiently to free their own slaves, 
by will or otherwise. 

We possess no account of a large slave- 
holding plantation of the period which com- 
pares in completeness with our knowledge 
of Washington's slaves. His diaries and 
accounts contain a vast amount of detail, 
both with regard to particular slaves and 
to the general condition of his slaves. The 
total number on the five Mount Vernon 
farms seem never to have exceeded about 
two hundred and fifty, man, woman, and 
child, though William Loughton Smith in 
his journal of a visit to Mount Vernon in 
1791 wrote: "he owns 300 slaves, about 
150 or 160 workers"; and since Washing- 
ton was not in the habit of selling slaves 
in order to raise money, the number of chil- 
dren, old people, and poor workers propor- 
tionately increased. On few plantations 
were the hands so well treated as on the 
Mount Vernon property. They were as well 
fed as any slaves of the time. There is 
next to nothing in the diaries about the 
punishment of slaves and much about the 
expense of medical attendance. 


Washington was early aware that slave 
labor was costly and otherwise questionable, 
and he did not later alter his opinion. In 
1767 he wrote: "God knows I have losses 
enough in Negroes to require something 
where with to supply their places." Also 
in 1794 he wrote to Alexander Spotswood: 
"Were it not then, that I am principled 
against selling negroes, as you would do 
cattle at a market, I would not in twelve 
months from this date, be possessed of one 
as a slave. I shall be happily mistaken, if 
they are not found to be very troublesome 

species of property ere many years pass over 
our heads — (but this by the bye)." Yet 
whatever profit there was out of Mount 
Vernon was the outcome, under efficient 
management, of slave labor; and as Wash- 
ington's possession of funds depended chiefly 
upon successful agriculture it is probable 
that even during his absences, when his 
oversight was indirect, the balance was not 
usually unfavorable. 

Washington in 1790 recorded a conversa- 
tion with "a Mr. Warner Miflin, one of the 
People called Quakers; active in pursuit of 
the Measures laid before Congress for 
emancipating the Slaves: ... he used argu- 
ments to show the immorality — injustice — 
and impolicy of keeping these people in a 
state of Slavery; with declarations, however, 
that he did not wish for more than a gradual 
abolition, or to see any infraction of the 
Constitution to effect it. To these I re- 
plied, that as it was a matter which might 
come before me for official decision I was 
not i